Policy Update Jul 11, 2016

Position on H.R. 1289, S. 718, S. 1622, S. 1696, S. 1930, S. 1943, S. 1993, S. 2177, S. 2309, S. 2412, S. 2548, S. 2805, S. 2839, S. 2954, S. 3020,S. 3027, S. 3028, H.R. 2880, S. 1923, S. 1690

NPCA submitted the following positions on legislation being considered by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee during a markup on July 12, 2016.

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.

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. 1662: Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area Amendment Act – NPCA supports this legislation that would add Livingston County, the City of Jonesboro in Union County, and the city of Freeport in Stephenson County, to the boundary of the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area. Livingston County is the only county in the 8th Judicial Circuit (Lincoln’s law circuit) not currently within the boundary of the National Heritage Area. The cities of Jonesboro and Freeport were both sites for Lincoln-Douglass debates of 1858. Their inclusion in the boundary will enable the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area and its partners to tell a more complete story about Lincoln’s time in Illinois prior to his election as president of the United States.

S. 1696: Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park Boundary Revision Act – NPCA supports this legislation that would adjust the park boundary from approximately 700 acres to around 2,000 acres, change the name to ‘Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park,’ authorize a resource study to determine if the park should be further enlarged to consolidate existing public lands, protect hunting and fishing, and provide additional opportunities for education, recreation and public enjoyment. The Ocmulgee National Monument was authorized by Congress in 1934 to protect a unique Native American cultural landscape known as the “Old Fields” and consisting of earth mounds and extensive prehistoric archaeology. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has declared the Old Fields as ranking among the nation’s richest archaeological areas. Excavations in the 1930s documented human presence dating back to the last Ice Age up to 17,000 years ago. Unfortunately, when the park was created during the Great Depression, only a fraction of the Old Fields could be preserved and many significant resources were left unprotected.

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.

S. 1943: Shiloh National Military Park Boundary Adjustment and Parker’s CrossroadsBattlefield Designation Act – NPCA supports this bill that 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. 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. 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. 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.

S. 2412: Tule Lake National Historic Site Establishment Act of 2015 – NPCA supports this legislation that would establish the Tule Lake National Historic Site in the State of California. The Tule Lake Segregation Center, which is currently one of the sub-units of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, should be a freestanding separate unit of the National Park System. The Tule Lake Segregation Center is the site where Japanese Americans were sent if the U.S. Government deemed them “disloyal.” The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument was created by President George W. Bush to celebrate and tell the stories of the valor by military personnel during World War II, including Pearl Harbor and the Battle of the Aleutians site in Alaska. The Tule Lake site focuses on the history of Japanese American incarceration during the war, an important and different story to be told in a site separate from the Valor National Monument.

S. 2548: 400 Years of African-American History Commission Act – 2019 will mark the 400th anniversary of the first documented instance of Africans arriving in the English colony of Virginia. Dutch sailors traded “twenty and odd Africans” to the English settled on the Old Point Comfort peninsula for food. NPCA supports S. 2548 which would establish a commission to determine the appropriate ways in which this historic period, essentially the first documented instance of African slavery in Virginia, should be commemorated.

S. 2805: A bill to modify the boundary of Voyageurs National Park in the State of Minnesota – NPCA supports this legislation that would modify the boundary of Voyageurs National Park and authorize the transfer of a number of BLM parcels within the park to the National Park Service. It also authorizes the transfer of any additional parcels that are identified by the BLM, and authorizes the park to acquire State lands in or adjacent to the park through donation or exchange. The interagency land transfer will save staff time and taxpayer dollars by eliminating the need for duplicative land management between the two federal agencies and provide consistency to the land management of the national park. According to the National Park Service, there are no anticipated costs associated with the land transfer itself.

S. 2839 / H.R. 3004: A bill to amend the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Act to extend the authorization for the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission – The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is managed by a federal commission of representatives from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida who plan the Corridor’s educational, economic development and preservation programs and oversee implementation of the management plan. NPCA supports S. 2839 / H.R. 3004 which would extend the current authorization for the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission by five years to 2021.

S. 2954: Ste. Genevieve National Historic Site Establishment Act of 2016 – NPCA supports this legislation to establish a new unit of the National Park System in the state of Missouri. Established in the mid-1700s, Ste. Genevieve was the first settlement on the west bank of the Mississippi River and is still the only surviving French Colonial village in the U.S. In May of this year, the NPS released a comprehensive Special Resource Study of the site that found that a portion of the Ste. Genevieve historic district meets criteria for national significance and suitability, and that certain resources within the district are feasible to manage as a unit and would benefit from direct NPS management.

S. 3020: A bill to update the map of, and modify the acreage available for inclusion in, the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument – NPCA supports this legislation that would modify the maximum acreage available for inclusion in Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Currently, the monument is completely surrounded by private land; there is no access to the park along the western boundary. A private landowner has offered to donate his property to the NPS to expand the park and provide access to lands on the west side. This property addition will enable NPS to more easily perform fuel mitigation in order to reduce risk of catastrophic wildfires within the park, which could impact both the park and its neighbors. The addition also expands NPS management of critical wildlife migration corridors.

S. 3027: Acadia National Park Boundary Clarification Act – NPCA supports the addition of the Schoodic Peninsula to Acadia National Park. The peninsula boasts dramatic ocean views, magnificent crashing surf, both biking and hiking trail systems with lovely coastal vistas, and a renovated and re-purposed Navy base that is now used for extensive public education and research. We do not support language to prohibit the National Park Service from making minor boundary adjustments through agency regulations—an authority used judiciously in many national park units.

S. 3028: Daniel J. Evans Olympic National Park Wilderness Act – NPCA supports this legislation to rename the Olympic Wilderness in Olympic National Park as the Daniel J. Evans Wilderness, a tribute to Washington’s former Republican governor, senator and member of Congress. Mr. Evans was a crucial supporter of the creation of North Cascades National Park and helped pass the Washington Wilderness Act and legislation creating the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.

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.

NPCA also supports the following two National Heritage Area (NHA) bills that would establish new heritage areas. But, though we support the judicious expansion of the National Heritage Area program, we would prefer that new areas be added only after passage of programmatic legislation that would provide much-needed improvements to the way heritage areas are funded, managed and assessed.

S. 1623: Maritime Washington National Heritage Area Act – This legislation would highlight the history, culture and places important to the people who have inhabited Washington State’s salt water coastline. It will help tell their stories, including those of Native Americans as well as modern European settlement, draw tourists, and focus attention and support for protecting historic places and structures.

S. 1690: Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area Act – This legislation would link rural Washington with Seattle, while supporting local communities in helping them protect historic structures and open space important for farming and recreation. It would highlight the people, history, cultures and landscapes along the primary transportation artery coming from the East and which has been important to developing the nation’s gateway to the Pacific and Asia.