Hastings’ Committee passes the Rattlesnake Mountain Public Access Act of 2011
Nov 17, 2011 -
Washington, D.C.—Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 2719, the Rattlesnake Mountain Public Access Act of 2011 with unanimous consent. This legislation, which Chairman Hastings introduced and has been a long time advocate of, will ensure public access to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain in the Hanford Reach National Monument for educational, recreational, historical, scientific, cultural and other purposes.
“At 3,600 feet—Rattlesnake Mountain is the highest point and provides unparalleled views for miles around the monument, the Hanford Site, and the Columbia River,” said Hastings. “The public should expect that if they can visit the summit of Mt. Rainier, then they certainly should be allowed to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain.”
Hastings introduced this same legislation in the 111th Congress (2009-2010).
Read the bill here.
Chairman Hastings Statement on H.R. 2719
House Committee on Natural Resources
November 17, 2011
H.R. 2719 directs the Department of Interior to provide the public with motorized, non-motorized and pedestrian access to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain, located within the Hanford Reach National Monument.
The Monument—the only one in the continental United States managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—includes Rattlesnake Mountain. At 3,600 feet—Rattlesnake Mountain is the highest point and provides unparalleled views for miles around the monument, the Hanford Site, and the Columbia River.
Unfortunately, it took the Service eight years to write a management plan that closed Rattlesnake Mountain to public access, despite the majority of public comments favoring the opposite. After I introduced this bill last Congress, the Service offered two tours for selected individuals, and then suddenly reneged on the offer just days before the tours were to occur, without explanation.
During a recent hearing on the bill, the Interior Department’s testimony inferred that the Service supports tours of Rattlesnake but very carefully does not say the Service will allow access to the summit. Furthermore, the testimony goes on at length why the Service can’t possibly allow public access until after 2012 because of consultation with three Indian Tribes that are known to oppose visitation to Rattlesnake Mountain.
To put it bluntly, the Service has had more than ten years, and they say it will take several more, before they can determine if they will allow the American people to have access. This bill is necessary to guarantee public access by law and to do so in a timely fashion.
The legislation is supported by the Tri-Cities Development Council, the Board of Benton County Commissioners, the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Tri-Cities Visitors and Convention Bureau and the Back Country Horsemen of Washington.
I ask that we approve this reasonable legislation today.