Policy Update Mar 16, 2016

Position on S. 2177/H.R. 959, S. 651/H.R. 1289, H.R. 2880, S. 1930, S. 119, S. 718, S. 770, S. 1943, S. 1975, S. 1993, S. 2309

NPCA submitted the following positions on legislation being considered by the Subcommittee on National Parks of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources during a hearing on March 17, 2016.

S. 2177 / H.R. 959: Medgar Evers House Study Act – NPCA supports this legislation that would study the home of Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi, in order to determine significance, suitability, and feasibility of being a unit of the National Park System. Mr. Evers was a leader in the civil rights movement and was the first NAACP field secretary for Mississippi. His activist legacy lived on after his assassination.

S. 651 / H.R. 1289: John Muir National Historic Site Expansion Act – NPCA supports this legislation that would add approximately 44 acres to the John Muir National Historic site. John Muir is one of the country’s most famous and influential naturalists who advocated for the creation of Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Kings Canyon, Petrified Forest, and Mt. Rainier National Parks. John Muir also contributed to the idea that led to the creation of the National Park Service.

H.R. 2880: Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park Act of 2015 – Given the pivotal role played by Martin Luther King in the Civil Rights movement, NPCA supports this legislation to re-designate the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site as a National Historical Park.

S. 1930: Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park Boundary Adjustment Act of 2015 – NPCA supports S. 1930 to protect additional portions of the Kennesaw Mountain Civil War battlefield. The bill will add approximately eight acres to the park, preserving key sites from General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign, including the Wallis House, one of the few original structures remaining from the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, and the Union signal station at Harriston Hill. NPCA is concerned about language in the House version of this bill, H.R. 3371, regarding buffer zones. Battlefields are places of solemnity and reflection. If a neighbor or neighboring activity could change these important park values, the National Park Service should maintain its authority to work with the neighboring entity to reduce impacts to park values.

S. 119: Wounded Veterans Recreation Act of 2015 – This bill amends the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act to require the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass to be made available at no charge to, and for the lifetime of, any veteran with a service-connected disability. The Pass is currently made available at no charge to, and for the lifetime of, any U.S. citizen or person domiciled in the United States who has been medically determined to be permanently disabled. NPCA supports this bill which would expand the Park Pass’s no service charge for our disabled veterans who have proudly served their country.

S. 718: To modify the boundary of Petersburg National Battlefield in the Commonwealth of Virginia – NPCA supports this bill to modify the boundary of Petersburg National Battlefield in Virginia. Civil War battlefields are being destroyed at the alarming rate of 30 acres each day, despite their continued value and meaning to America. Petersburg National Battlefield is under substantial development pressure and significant sites have already been lost. A comprehensive National Park Service study of the area calls for the addition of 7,238 acres of critical battlefield to the park. The added lands at Petersburg will protect America’s Civil War history, leave a lasting legacy for future generations, and enhance the park’s ability to attract visitors.

S.770: Escambia County Land Conveyance Act – NPCA opposes this legislation as written because the transfer of lands without the following amendments—as proposed by the National Park Service—could cause irreparable harm to the resources of Gulf Islands National Seashore. Specifically, the lands owned by Escambia County that do not otherwise have a person or entity holding a leasehold interest in that property, should continue to preserve the undeveloped beach for continued access. While the bill references “conservation… in accordance with resolutions heretofore adopted by the Board of County Commissioners,” the county could change its land use definition in the future allowing for a waterpark or other damaging development. In addition, there should be a prohibition against constructing a channel through Santa Rosa Island, as any new channel and ancillary jetty construction would have long-term, detrimental impacts on the Fort Pickens area of the Seashore and lands owned by NPS. Lastly, the Seashore should be allowed to accept any conservation easements of these lands and any lands not managed in accordance with this bill should revert back to the federal government. Recognizing these concerns, and the potential damage to the Gulf Islands National Seashore, NPCA recommends voting against H.R. 1452 unless these changes are made.

S. 1943: Shiloh National Military Park Boundary Adjustment and Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield Designation Act – NPCA supports this bill which adjusts the boundary of Shiloh National Military Park to protect the Fallen Timbers, Russell House and Davis Bridge battlefields, and establishes the Parker’s Crossroads battlefield as an affiliated area of the National Park System.

S. 1975: Sewall-Belmont House Act of 2015 – NPCA supports this bill that would designate the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum as a unit of the National Park System. Just two percent of all national park sites are dedicated to specifically commemorating women’s history; adding the Sewall-Belmont House would ensure future generations can explore the important contributions women had in shaping equal rights in our country. The Sewall-Belmont House contains the most complete collection of suffrage and equal rights movement documents in America; a collection that should be managed and interpreted by National Park rangers for all visitors to enjoy.

S. 1993: 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act of 2015 – The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) is a bold initiative that addresses the need for maintenance and restoration on our public lands, waters, and natural and cultural resources while also providing service and work-experience opportunities for young people and veterans. The 21CSC is a public-private partnership that encourages veterans and young people, the next generation of public land stewards, to invest in the preservation of America’s great outdoors. NPCA supports this bill.

S. 2309: U.S. Civil Rights Network Act of 2015 – Although many sites significant to the U.S. Civil Rights movement have been identified and protected as units of the National Park System, many more remain unidentified or without adequate resource protection. The establishment of a Civil Rights Trail would provide some National Park Service funding and technical expertise to the individuals, groups, associations or agencies that own such properties and enable them to better protect and interpret important resources and stories. NPCA supports this important legislation.