TESTIMONY OF GERRY JACKSON, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR ECOLOGICAL SERVICES,
U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS, ON S. 2470, DIRECTING THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO MAKE CERTAIN CHANGES TO MAPS RELATING TO THE COASTAL BARRIER RESOURCES SYSTEM IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA
September 22, 1998

Good Morning. I am Gerry Jackson, Assistant Director for Ecological Services of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I appreciate this opportunity to testify on S. 2470, a bill to direct the Secretary of the Interior to make corrections to a map relating to the Coastal Barrier Resources System.

The Administration supports enactment of S. 2470. This bill would modify boundaries of unit FL-35 within the Coastal Barrier Resources System in Florida by excluding an area that was incorrectly mapped as undeveloped.

The Coastal Barrier Resources Act of 1982, which established the Coastal Barrier Resources System, was designed to limit federally subsidized development activities within undeveloped coastal barriers. It is important to note that the Act does not prohibit development. Landowners are still free to develop their property.

However, Congress determined that taxpayers should not subsidize development activities in these high-risk, damage-prone coastal areas. By restricting all new Federal expenditures and financial assistance in such areas, Congress sought to minimize the loss of human life, wasteful expenditure of Federal revenues, and damage to fish, wildlife, and other natural resources associated with coastal barriers.

Section 10 of the original Coastal Barrier Resources Act mandated a study of coastal barriers and required the Department of the Interior to provide Congress with recommended changes to the System. An extensive public review period was conducted from 1983 up to the completion of the Department's 1988 Report to Congress. This Report included final recommendations for additions and deletions to the System. Using this report and its maps, the Congress in 1990 enacted the Coastal Barrier Improvement Act, which both added and removed areas from the System.

S. 2470 would remove the 25-acre island of Pumpkin Key from the Coastal Barrier Resources System. Based on information available at the time, Pumpkin Key was mapped by the Service as an undeveloped coastal barrier, so designated in its 1988 Report to Congress, and included in the Coastal Barrier Resources System by Congress on that basis.

Subsequently, in late 1996 and early 1997. the owner of Pumpkin Key provided new information to the Service describing the level of development on Pumpkin Key, including a list of structures and infrastructure and when they were built. This new information was sufficient for us to determine that the island met the requirements to be considered as "developed" at the time of passage of the Coastal Barrier Improvement Act in November 1990.

According to Departmental criteria. the first step in analyzing development status is to examine the number of structures in place at the time of inclusion in the System. The Service received evidence that three insurable structures on the Pumpkin Key were built by November 1990. Since there were not sufficient structures for the island to be considered as developed, the Service then examined the level of infrastructure present.

A full complement of infrastructure is defined to include water supply, wastewater disposal, electricity, and paved roads. The development information supplied by the representatives of Pumpkin Key on August 5, 1996, and February 14, 1997, clearly demonstrates a high level of infrastructure development prior to 1990. Signed, sworn affidavits and as-built engineering drawings attest to the presence of electricity, water, and wastewater disposal capacity for every building lot on the island, as well as paved golf cart paths. These paths, paved in 1984, provide the transportation infrastructure for the island, which has no bridge or ferry access and no automobiles.

This information, which was not available to the Service when it prepared the 1988 Report, nor to Congress when it included Pumpkin Key in the System in 1990, provided the basis for the Service's current finding that the island was developed prior to its inclusion in the System. We therefore support modification of the boundary of Unit FL-35 to exclude Pumpkin Key, as proposed in S. 2470, as a valid technical correction of a mapping error.

This concludes my formal statement. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.