If H.R. 901 were presented to the President, the Secretary of the Interior
would recommend that the bill be vetoed. H.R. 901 would impose unnecessary
restrictions on the existing legal and administrative framework that implements
U.S. commitments to international environmental cooperative efforts. This bill
could significantly reduce U.S. leadership and influence in global conservation
and is counter to the U.S. role in global environmental cooperation.
H.R. 901 is based upon the faulty premise that the World Heritage Convention,
the Biosphere Reserve Program, and other international conservation agreements
or programs threaten the United States' sovereignty over its lands. There are
several reasons why these agreements and programs do not encroach upon U.S.
The Administration also strongly opposes amendments made to the bill during the
full committee mark-up that would include the Ramsar Convention among those
international agreements for which an act of Congress would be needed to
nominate or designate an area. Nominating and ultimately designating wetland
sites under Ramsar is a voluntary, community-driven process that requires
State, Commonwealth, or Territorial approval. In addition, the Fish and
Wildlife Service requests written support from the appropriate members of the
affected Congressional delegation. Ramsar site designations do not impose any
land management oversight by international organizations.
- International conservation agreements, such as the World Heritage
Convention, and programs, such as the U.S. Man in the Biosphere Program, do not
give the United Nations the authority to influence land management decisions
within the United States and have not been utilized to exclude Congress from
land management decisions, nor could they be used to do so.
- The nomination processes for international conservation recognitions are
consultative and based on a demonstrated commitment at the local level.
- International site recognitions do not affect land use decisions by local
governments, tribes, or private property owners, and are subject to applicable
- International site recognitions do not impose restrictions on land use or
stop economic growth. To the contrary, World Heritage sites and U.S. Biosphere
Reserves have been embraced in many local areas as value-added designations,
increasing partnership among Federal, State, and local governments, and private
property owners. These designations have also contributed to an increase in
international tourism, which is especially vital to rural economies.