SAIPAN, MP – The US House of Representatives today passed a bill authorizing the Interior Department to study Rota as a potential site for a National Park. The measure was adopted by the House without objection.
“People on Rota have asked for this study to see if any part of their island would meet the standard of national significance for a park,” said Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan after the bill passed.
“I think that parts of Rota do have national significance. So, I am very glad to move this legislation one more step down the road to passage today.”
The Rota Cultural and Natural Resources Study Act, HR 4686, now goes to the US Senate for consideration.
Sablan’s bill authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study of the pre- and post-western contact archaeological sites on Rota and of the island’s unique plant and animal life to determine whether these resources have national significance. If they do, and if it would be suitable and feasible, the study may recommend establishment of a National Park on Rota to preserve and protect these resources.
The study process would include opportunities for public comment and consideration of any park proposal.
In his statement on the House floor during debate, Sablan submitted a letter of support for the bill from Rota Mayor Melchor A. Mendiola, who pointed out how a national park would fit with Rota’s goal of becoming an eco-tourism destination.
Designation of park areas on Rota is also viewed as a way to free up development by giving permanent protected status to areas of importance to the rare bird and plant life that Rota enjoys.
Rota Representatives Teresita A. Santos testified in favor of the bill in April before the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands.