Agriculture Subcommittee Holds Hearing on National Arboretum

Oct 21, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Gil Gutknecht, Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry, convened a hearing today to discuss the U.S. National Arboretum, including its public facilities and research missions.

The National Arboretum was created in 1927 and serves as both a public garden and as a source of fundamental tree, shrub, and plant research. Its research program supports numerous agricultural sectors including the landscape and horticulture industry. Arboretum Researchers have provided over 650 official plant introductions and is critical to horticulturalists, private gardeners, and nursery and landscape professionals in America and around the world.

“Over its 76-year history, the National Arboretum has provided the District of Columbia with spectacular beauty and has provided the Nation with a wealth of valuable research.” Gutknecht said in his opening statement. “It is a national treasure both as a public garden and as a source of tree, shrub, and plant information.”

The Committee heard from two panels of witnesses. The first featured Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Chairman of the District of Columbia Appropriations Subcommittee. The second panel included Dr. Rodney J. Brown, Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics at United States Department of Agriculture, and Ms. Tuckie Westfall, Chairman, of the Friends of the National Arboretum.

“The National Arboretum is a tremendous resource that is underutilized and not fully appreciated. Its research capabilities and functions should continue, but greater public and private access to the facilities would serve to enhance its visibility and strengthen its educational value as well,” Ranking Member Cal Dooley said. “Today’s hearing clearly established the need for the Arboretum to move in that direction.”

Gutknecht concluded, “We should not minimize the importance of the research the Arboretum conducts. But, at the same time, we should be more creative with its public use and ensure the Arboretum is a more accessible and better utilized destination.”