NPCA submitted the following positions to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources National Parks Subcommittee ahead of a hearing scheduled for February 14, 2018.
S. 400: Susquehanna National Heritage Area Act – NPCA supports this legislation which will support place-based heritage tourism and recreation, advance conservation initiatives that protect the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay, and lead to much needed job growth in the Lower Susquehanna Region. The lower Susquehanna River region reveals unique and iconic stories in American history from the site of Native American villages to pivotal Civil War battles. The passage of this legislation, with sufficient investment in the National Heritage Area Program, can support local businesses and leverage federal investments into the National Park Service’s (NPS) Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
NPCA supports the judicious expansion of the National Heritage Area program. We do, however, have grave concerns about the unintentional and adverse impacts adding new heritage areas, no matter how worthy of designation, will have on the 49 that currently exist without an increase to the program’s operating budget. Heritage areas must match federal funding dollar for dollar with non-federal support. On average, most heritage areas deliver a four to one return on their federal investment. Increasing the program’s budget will protect stories and lifeways, generate heritage tourism, and create jobs. And it is the only way to ensure that new areas can thrive without undermining the performance of those that already exist.
S. 1160: 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. 1335: Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park Establishment Act – 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. The NPS Special Resource Study of the site 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. 1446/H.R. 1135: To reauthorize the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Historic Preservation program – NPCA supports this bill to amend the Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Management Act of 1996 to reauthorize Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) grants for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) from FY2018 through FY2024. HPF funds will be used to support preservation and restoration of buildings and structures at HBCU campuses across the nation.
S. 1472: A bill to reauthorize the Tennessee Civil War Heritage Area – NPCA supports this bill. The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area has produced an Emmy award winning documentary on the Civil War in Tennessee, collaborated with the Center for Historic Preservation to preserve the Web School and Museum, and helped to facilitate discussions about emancipation, Reconstruction and the broader meaning of the American Civil War. The extension of their authorization to receive federal funding ensures that this rich tradition of bringing communities together over a war that split the nation in two will continue for years to come.
S. 1602: Finger Lakes National Heritage Area Study Act – NPCA supports this legislation, which authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study to assess the suitability and feasibility of designating certain land as the Finger Lakes National Heritage Area. The historic Finger Lakes Region of New York is a 9,000 square mile, four-season playground, set against a backdrop of Mother Nature’s best work – from waterfalls and gorges to thick, cool woods to rolling hills to miles of spectacular shoreline on 11 glacial lakes and one Great Lake. It also includes the Women’s Rights National Historical Park that tells the story of the first Women’s Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, NY on July 19-20, 1848. Should the final study recommend the designation of a Finger Lakes National Heritage Area, NPCA hopes it will also recommend the best methods for ensuring the fiscal well-being of the new area and of the existing National Heritage Area program.
As noted above, NPCA supports the judicious expansion of the National Heritage Area program. We do, however, have grave concerns about the unintentional and adverse impacts adding new heritage areas, no matter how worthy of designation, will have on the 49 that currently exist without an increase to the program’s operating budget. Heritage areas must match federal funding dollar for dollar with non-federal support. On average, most heritage areas deliver a four to one return on their federal investment. Increasing the program’s budget will protect stories and lifeways, generate heritage tourism, and create jobs. And it is the only way to ensure that new areas can thrive without undermining the performance of those that already exist.
S. 1645: Thurgood Marshall’s Elementary School Study Act – NPCA supports this legislation that would study P.S. 103 and the surrounding neighborhood of West Baltimore, Maryland in order to determine significance, suitability and feasibility of being a unit of the National Park System. Former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall attended the public school as a youth and lived in the neighborhood throughout his childhood.
S. 1646: President Street Station Study Act – NPCA supports this legislation that would study the President Street Station in Baltimore, Maryland in order to determine significance, suitability and feasibility of being a unit of the National Park System. The former train station was an important rail transportation link during the Civil War and is the oldest surviving big-city railroad terminal in the United States.
S. 1956/H.R. 2897: A bill to authorize the Mayor of the District of Columbia and the Director of the National Park Service to enter into cooperative management agreements for the operation, maintenance, and management of units of the National Park System in the District of Columbia - NPCA is concerned that the language outlined in Section 1(a) expands the District of Columbia’s role in park management by allowing the city unprecedented oversight of management, operation, and design and construction of improvements of park units. Cooperative agreements are intended to introduce shared responsibility for the protection and preservation of national parks but they cannot relieve the Park Service of their stewardship duties. We encourage the committee to consider inserting the District of Columbia into the current code instead of inserting the language as outlined in Section 1(a).
S. 2102: Acadia National Park Boundary Clarification Act –NPCA supports this bill to address the boundary of Acadia National Park and provide for some additional administrative provisions. The bill would codify the Schoodic Peninsula addition to the park, an area of pristine beauty and with improved public amenities to allow visitors to camp, bike and hike the Schoodic Woods while finding peace and solitude along Maine’s stunning and undeveloped coastline. NPCA also supports the permanent authorization of the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission as it plays an integral role in providing local feedback to creatively problem solve and move toward successes at Acadia National Park. We also support the modification of the land use designation for the Tremont School to allow for public uses. NPCA supports language to allow the park to transfer or exchange land up to 10 acres on a case-by-case basis, including when there are land survey errors or road realignments.
NPCA is however concerned with Section 8 of S. 2102: Continuation of Certain Traditional Uses as it lists specific organisms that would be allowed for harvesting, as regulated by the State of Maine. NPCA supports allowing the Park Service at Acadia to monitor and regulate harvesting practices in the inter-tidal zone surrounding the park, though only using traditional methods. NPCA seeks a clarification of legislative intent that “traditional” does not include mechanized harvesting, but rather “non-mechanized” or “by-hand” methods.
S. 2225: Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Reauthorization Act of 2017 – NPCA supports this legislation. The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area has been an integral part of the growth of heritage and recreation tourism in western North Carolina. By extending the authorization for four years Blue Ridge will continue to protect the landscapes and cultures beloved by North Carolinians and visitors from all over the world.
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Legislative Director, Government Affairs