DONALD C. STRIMBECK
P. O. Box 519
Granville WV 26534-0519
Friday 5 January 2001
Senator Robert C. Byrd
311 Senate Hart Office Building
Washington DC 20510
Dear Senator Byrd:
Thank you for your letters of 29 November and 15 December, and the enclosed information about the budgets for the US Army Corps of Engineers (COE) and the US Department of Transportation.
Permit me to make a couple of updates. First, I did receive from you around the first week of November the package of information from the COE Pittsburgh District, with tonnage and vessel transit data for the Point Marion, Morgantown, Hildebrand, and, Opekiska locks on the upper Monongahela River, for 1981-1999. Unfortunately, I quickly skimmed the voluminous package, and, then, set it aside for analysis as a "cabin fever" chore when the weather tanked. That chore began on 14 December, and, I noted that data for 1985-1988 was missing, for all four locks. But, I called Bill Frechione at COE Pittsburgh on 28 December, and, Bill will get me the missing data. Further, Tom Flynn, Operations Manager for the Monongahela River, promises me the year 2000 data shortly! When I get that data, I can complete the tables and graphs I have prepared for the data now on hand. But, what I evidence from the graphs and tables is not good. Tonnage has tanked at Opekiska and Hildebrand locks, and, tonnage through the Morgantown lock is way down. Tonnage at Point Marion is way down, but, high compared to the other three locks. But!! What will happen to tonnage at Point Marion, when the Humphrey mine closes for good in 2-4 years!!?? Anyway, when I get the missing data for 1985-88, and, the year 2000 data, and get it all analyzed, I will prepare a preliminary report for review and comment by you and others.
Also, as I promised in my letter of 1 December to you, I have, after an appropriate period of procrastination, prepared my layman's suggested amendments to the proposed National Recreation Lakes Act. So, let me shift to that update
The proposed act was introduced into the House and Senate last spring by Representative Deal and Senator Lincoln. The proposed legislation died with the conclusion of the 106th Congress last month. I presume that Representative Deal and Senator Lincoln will reintroduce the proposed National Recreation Lakes Act into their respective chambers, now that the new 107th Congress has convened as of 3 January 2001.
We (UPPER MONONGAHELA COMMITTEE FOR BETTER BOATING) would like for the draft act to be revised to include our concerns. The draft act that I'm working with is what I downloaded from the Library of Congress THOMAS website ( http://thomas.loc.gov ) on 29 September 2000.
Perhaps this might be done by adding a new SECTION 12. While I'm not a crafter of legislation, my attempt at such a SECTION 12 follows
SECTION 12. PURPOSES AND PROVISIONS OF ACT EXTENDED TO INCLUDE NAVIGABLE RIVERS
(a) The provisions of the act also apply to navigable rivers, and the operations of federal facilities thereon (eg, locks and dams), and federally-funded shore-side facilities, to:
(1) Promote recreational uses (boating, fishing, camping) of navigable rivers and shore-side and nearby facilities by individuals, families, and recreational organizations;
(2) Promote development of long-distance recreational and vacation boating and the marinas and other shore-side facilities required to support such boating;
(3) Promote the development of commercial touring boat excursions that offer onboard room, board, and entertainment facilities and activities, for day tours, and for overnight and longer excursions. With the provision, however, that gambling in any form on such tour boats is specifically not authorized by this legislation
(b) Since the locks and dams on navigable rivers are operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers (COE), the COE is directed to equate recreational uses of navigable rivers with COE's traditional mandates of fostering river commerce, flood control, and river flow maintenance, when the COE plans and requests funds for operation of these locks and dams and other river facilities operated by the COE that affect and can foster river-related recreation activities. The intent here is that the COE will, unless there are valid reasons for not doing so, keep locks open twenty-four hours a day during the recreational boating season . The length of the recreational boating season depends on the location of the navigable river. For the continental United States, however, the intent of this legislation is that the recreational boating season would generally range from a minimum of six months, to a maximum of eight months, with flexibility granted in the starting and ending dates for the boating recreational season depending upon the location of the river. The COE thus is directed to follow these guidelines, unless the COE has good and valid reasons for proposing an alternative operating period for locks on a navigable river, for recreational purposes. The COE is also directed to consult and coordinate with other federal agencies (eg, Coast Guard, Department of the Interior) when the COE is addressing these recreational boating concerns. The COE is also directed to consult and coordinate with appropriate state and local government entities, businesses and business organizations, citizens and civic groups, recreational organizations and specifically recreational boating organizations, when the COE is developing plans and budgets for addressing recreational boating needs on navigable rivers.
Also, after re-reading the draft legislation, I suggest that perhaps a new SECTION 13 might be added. While the draft NRL act hints at what I propose below as a new SECTION 13, the current draft does not specifically foster the development of local community infrastructures needed to achieve the aims of the act. So, maybe something like this:
SECTION 13. SUPPORT OF COMMUNITY INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT THAT FOSTERS THE GOALS OF THE ACT.
The Congress realizes that achieving the goals of this act may require assistance to state and local governments and communities, businesses, and recreational-based entities located near the lakes and rivers covered by this act, beyond the provisions of this act. Such federal assistance thus may be the subject of additional congressional legislation, directed to specific needs for these organizations, on a case-by-case basis, or legislation of a broader nature that addresses generic needs of such organizations on a nationwide basis. This act may be cited as a basic underlying rationale for such future legislation.
Such are my suggested amendments to the proposed National Recreation Lakes Act. I hope that you and Representative Mollohan, and, Governor-Elect Wise, will agree in principle with these draft amendments. I also hope that Bob Herbst, Chair, National Recreation Lakes Coalition, and, Mick Blackistone, National Marine Manufacturers Association, will also agree in principle. I'll be calling all of you around the 15th of this month to cuss-discuss these proposed amendments to the National Recreation Lakes Act.
And, Senator Byrd, I thank you and Representative Mollohan, on behalf of our UPPER MONONGAHELA COMMITTEE FOR BETTER BOATING, for your interest and assistance with our "lock hours" concerns!
(1) Lock hours email lists.
(2) Senator Lincoln.
(3) Senator Santorum.**
(4) Gov-Elect Wise. UPPER MONONGAHELA COMMITTEE
(5) Representative Mollohan FOR BETTER BOATING
(6) Representative Deal
(7) Representative Wamp
(8) Representative Shuster
(9) Representative Saxton
(10) Representative Mascara**
(11) Bob Herbst, National Recreation Lakes Coalition, http://www.recreationlakes.com
(12) Mick Blackistone, NMMA, http://www.nmma.org
**Senator Santorum and Representative Mascara received a letter dated 8 December 2000, in support of our Upper Mon Committee's efforts, from Dr. J. K Folmar, President, Monongahela River Buffs Association, P. O. Box 401, Monongahela PA 15063, phone 724-938-7856. Ernie Gabler, Greensboro PA, founded the Buffs to study Mon River history after he retired in the late 1970's after 40 years service tending Duquesne Light's barges on the Mon! See article Uniontown Herald Standard, front page, Monday 2 October 2000, TWAIN ROLLS ON: GREENSBORO MAN CONTINUES EFFORT TO PRESERVE WINDING RIVER'S HISTORY. http://www.heraldstandard.com . Or, if that does not work, try http://www.h-s-online.com .
PS: I point out to Senator Santorum and Representative Mascara that the "lock hours" problem we experience on the Upper Monongahela River in West Virginia, also exists on the Upper Allegheny River in Pennsylvania.
PS's PS: Sorry to hear on this morning's CNN channel that Bud Shuster is retiring from the House of Representatives.