Policy Update Mar 29, 2017

Position on S. 55, S. 99, S. 213, S. 287, S. 363, S. 392, S. 502, S. 617, S. 644, S. 729, H.R. 88, H.R. 267, H.R. 494, H.R. 538, H.R. 558, S. 401, S. 627, S. 713, S. 731

NPCA submitted the following positions on legislation being considered by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee during a business meeting on March 30, 2017.

NPCA urges members of the committee to support the following bills:

  • S. 55 / H.R. 46: Fort Ontario Study Act – This bill directs the Department of the Interior to conduct a special resource study of Fort Ontario in Oswego, New York to evaluate the site’s national significance and determine the suitability and feasibility of designating it as a unit of the National Park System. Fort Ontario was used as a military installation during the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812. Given the pivotal role of Fort Ontario in our country’s military and cultural history, NPCA supports this legislation to study whether the fort’s 260 years of military and cultural history meets the National Park Services’ criteria for national recognition.
  • S. 99: James K. Polk Presidential Home Study Act – NPCA supports this legislation to study the James K. Polk Home in Columbia, Tennessee to determine significance, suitability, and feasibility of being a unit of the National Park System. The home is the only surviving residence of President Polk (besides the White House) and houses original possessions of the President and Mrs. Polk.
  • S. 213: Jay S. Hammond Wilderness Act of 2017 – NPCA supports this legislation to name the designated Wilderness within Lake Clark National Park and Preserve as the Jay S. Hammond Wilderness Area, a wonderful tribute to Alaska’s highly respected governor from 1975 to 1982. Jay Hammond built his family’s homestead on the remote shores of Lake Clark and was known as a champion of rural Alaska. He was a bush pilot and a politician, a big game guide and a wildlife protection officer, a Republican and a conservationist.
  • S. 287: A bill to update the map of, and modify the maximum acreage available for inclusion in, the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument – NPCA supports this legislation to modify the maximum acreage available for inclusion in Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Currently, the monument is 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 affect both the park and its neighbors. The addition also expands NPS management of critical wildlife migration corridors.
  • S. 363: North Country National Scenic Trail Route Adjustment Act – NPCA supports this legislation to change a portion of the official route of the North Country National Scenic Trail in northeastern Minnesota to a more scenic and sustainable location. The route change would incorporate into the North Country NST the now-existing, world-class hiking trails in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters and along the North Shore of Lake Superior—trails that did not exist when the NST was originally authorized in 1980. Their inclusion in the NST greatly enhances local tourism and eliminates the need to route the trail through sensitive wetlands and bogs of the original (and yet unbuilt) route, saving construction and maintenance costs. The Act would also complete the connection between the North Country NST and its sister trail, the Appalachian NST, in Vermont, as originally envisioned. The changes to the trail would not adversely affect the rights of landowners as the National Park Service only has the authority to purchase land or rights of way from willing sellers.
  • S. 392: 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” for food to the English settled on the Old Point Comfort peninsula. NPCA supports this legislation to 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. 502: A bill to modify the boundary of Voyageurs National Park in the State of Minnesota – NPCA supports this legislation to modify the boundary of Voyageurs National Park and authorize the transfer of a number of Bureau of Land Management (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 only. 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. 617: Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook Wild and Scenic River Act – NPCA supports this legislation to designate certain segments of the Farmington River and Salmon Brook as components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. These areas are unique recreational and natural resources in an increasingly urbanized area of Connecticut.
  • S. 644: Medgar Evers House Study Act – NPCA supports this legislation to study the home of Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi, 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 at age 37.
  • S. 729: A bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to acquire approximately 44 acres of land in Martinez, California, for inclusion in the John Muir National Historic Site – NPCA supports this legislation to add approximately 44 acres to the John Muir National Historic Site. John Muir is one of the country’s most famous and influential naturalist who was involved with 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. 88: Shiloh National Military Park Boundary Adjustment and Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield Designation Act – NPCA supports the adjustment of the boundary of Shiloh National Military Park to protect the Fallen Timbers, Russell House and Davis Bridge battlefields, and the establishment of the Parker’s Crossroads battlefield as an affiliated area of the National Park System.
  • H.R. 267: Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park Act of 2017 – 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.
  • H.R. 494: Fort Frederica National Monument Boundary Expansion Act – Fort Frederica National Monument preserves the remains of one of the earliest Colonial-era English settlements in Georgia, established by Governor James Oglethorpe in 1736 to defend the British colonies against Spanish invasion from Florida. This legislation preserves undeveloped forest land adjacent to the fort from encroaching development. The St. Simons Land Trust has already purchased part of the property north of the fort and is holding it for transfer to the park once a boundary expansion is authorized. Given the significance of the historical resources for telling the story of the events leading to our nation’s founding, NPCA is pleased to support the boundary expansion.
  • H.R. 538: Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park Boundary Revision Act of 2017 – NPCA supports this legislation to 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. H.R. 538 honors the ancestral story of the Muscogee Creek and other southeastern Native people, will protect important wildlife and recreational resources, and will promote tourism and boost economic growth. The bill is supported by the Governors of Georgia and Oklahoma and the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes representing over 500,000 Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, and Seminole people throughout the United States.
  • H.R. 558: Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park Boundary Adjustment Act – NPCA supports the boundary adjustment to protect additional portions of the Kennesaw Mountain Civil War battlefield. The bill adds 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.

In regards to H.R. 88, H.R. 494, H.R. 538, and H.R. 558, NPCA opposes all sections regarding “buffer zones,” since the language seeks to override existing National Park Service authorities’ to protect park resources and values. The American people and foreign visitors travel to national parks to learn about pivotal moments in our nation’s history and experience solitude in nature. The Park Service must consider how activities on adjacent lands affect park resources and the visitor experience and be able to engage the community in finding reasonable solutions to potentially difficult management challenges.

  • NPCA also supports the following four National Heritage Area bills that would establish new heritage areas. Though we support the judicious expansion of the National Heritage Area program, we would prefer new areas be added only after passage of programmatic legislation, such as H.R. 1002 which would provide much-needed improvements to the way heritage areas are funded, managed and assessed.
    • S. 401: Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area Act – The Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area proposes to protect forest management heritage in portions of West Virginia and Maryland and develop interpretive and recreational themes to promote heritage tourism, small business development and enhanced pride of place.
    • S. 627: Maritime Washington National Heritage Area Act – This legislation highlights 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. 713: a bill to establish the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area in the State of Washington – This legislation links rural Washington with Seattle, while supporting local communities’ protection of historic structures and open space important for farming and recreation. It highlights 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.
    • S. 731: A bill to establish the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area – The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area recognizes, enhances and promotes the ecological, agricultural, recreational, historic and cultural resources, and heritage via a public-private network of partner sites highlighting the multi-cultural contributions that have shaped the Delta’s rural landscape.