Statement of Harold Craig Manson
Nominee for the Position of Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, Department of the Interior
Committee on Environment and Public Works
United States Senate
September 21, 2001
Mr. Chairman, Senator Smith, Members of the Committee, I am honored and humbled to appear before you as the President=s nominee to be Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, seeking your confirmation vote. I am deeply grateful for the confidence in me shown by the President and Secretary Norton. I also thank Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman for her support.
I appreciate that the Committee has taken time to hold this hearing in a time of great national crisis. As you know, the Department of the Interior=s personnel, including the U. S. Park Police and the law enforcement elements of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others have played vital roles in responding to the current crisis. Most regrettably, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee, Richard Guadagno, lost his life in the crash of the jet in Pennsylvania. Mr. Guadagno was the refuge manager of the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge in my home state of California. He was highly regarded by all who knew him and he embodied the very best attributes of the talented people in both the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service.
I am a descendant of Africans, Europeans, and Native Americans. Born in Missouri, gateway to the west, I grew up principally in New Mexico and California, where I now reside. I=ve spent 42 of the last 47 years living in the western United States, including, in addition to New Mexico and California, Arizona, Colorado, and South Dakota.
I received my undergraduate education at the United States Air Force Academy. Following my graduation from the Academy, I served two years as a Minuteman missile launch officer. The Air Force then sent me to law school and I received my law degree at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. I served in various Air Force judge advocate assignments in the U.S. and overseas, including four years on the Air Force Academy faculty, in the Department of Law. During my faculty tour, I was assigned, with several other faculty members, to report to the Secretary of the Air Force concerning the state of Air Force compliance with environmental laws on its overseas bases.
After leaving active duty in 1989, I practiced law with a major Sacramento law firm for three years. I was then appointed by California Governor Pete Wilson to the newly created position of General Counsel of the California Department of Fish and Game. I held that position for five years, after which the Governor appointed me to be a judge. I have served on the Superior Court in Sacramento since 1998. I=ve also been on the faculty of McGeorge School of Law since 1992. I continue my military service in the Air National Guard, with the current rank of colonel.
Apart from unmitigated enthusiasm for I what think is the best job in Washington, I offer my experience in natural resources law and policy, an ability to build consensus across diverse interest groups, and a judicial approach to decision-making.
During my tenure with California=s Department of Fish and Game, we conserved hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat in an innovative multiple species planning program in Southern California=s coastal sage scrub habitat. That habitat, home to hundreds of potentially at-risk plant and animal species, stretches across the five counties in which California=s most intensive growth and development pressures exist. Our natural communities conservation program had bipartisan support as well as the support of landowners, resource users, local governments and environmental interest groups. As to the largest of the plans under this program, the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Plan, the Los Angeles Times reported on March 19, 1997:
AA committee composed mainly of local businesses, including Bank of America and the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce, concluded >the cost to the public is modest given the benefits.= @
In addition to our large scale multiple species plans, during my tenure at California Fish and Game, we pioneered habitat conservation plans, HCPs, using our state Endangered Species Act. At one point during the 1990=s, we had more HCPs in the state of California under state law than existed in the entire rest of the country under federal law.
Based on the scientific judgments of our biologists, each of our state HCPs involved the cooperation of landowners. Again, hundreds of thousands of acres of habitat were conserved while allowing economic activities to proceed.
I have spent most of my adult life in public service. In all of that time, I have had no prouder moment than in 1997 when Governor Pete Wilson signed into law amendments to the California Endangered Species Act. I had been entrusted with the Wilson administration=s negotiating portfolio on that legislation. We worked diligently for four years to build a consensus among environmental groups, landowners, local governments, and agricultural interests. We listened to everybody. Eventually, our legislation, conceived by a Republican administration, was introduced by three Democratic state legislators and won bipartisan passage. The legislation placed into the California Endangered Species Act the concepts of landowner incentives and requirements for effective species recovery programs. The legislation also provided for voluntary, locally designed programs to conserve habitat while allowing agricultural activities to proceed without the counterproductive effects of a strict regulatory approach.
I mention my experiences in California to illustrate my commitment to work through environmental and natural resource public policy issues on a consensus basis whenever possible. In that regard, I am completely committed to what Secretary Norton describes as the A4 C=s@: communication, consultation, and cooperation, all in the service of conservation. I strongly support Secretary Norton=s philosophy that the federal government must be a partner to state and local governments, individuals and non-governmental organizations affected by or interested in natural resource policy.
If I am confirmed, I will also apply my judicial experience to the issues involving our natural resources and national parks. First, every interested party will get a fair hearing, environmental interest groups, landowners, farmers, ranchers, state and local government, historic preservation interests, and sportsmen. Second, any decisions I make or recommendations I give to the Secretary will be based on the weight of the evidence. I agree with the view expressed by both the President and Secretary Norton that our natural resources public policies must be informed by sound science.
Earlier, I described the position of Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks as the best job in Washington. One of the aspects of the job I most look forward to, if I am confirmed, is the opportunity to work with the talented and dedicated employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service. I have great respect for these professionals who ensure the preservation of America=s greatest treasures every day.
Mr. Chairman, I love our great country and the physical resources with which we have been blessed. If confirmed, I will do my best to see that our resources remain a perpetual source of enjoyment for the American people.
I=ll be pleased to answer any questions.