Policy Update May 21, 2019

Position on H.R. 307, H.R. 1088, H.R. 1179, H.R. 1487, & H.R. 2427

NPCA submitted the following positions to members of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands ahead of a hearing scheduled for May 22, 2019. 

H.R. 307: Preserving America’s Battlefields Act – NPCA supports this bill to encourage preservation of Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War battlefields by reauthorizing the federal Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants Program, a matching grants program administered by the American Battlefield Protection Program. This program encourages state and private-sector investment in battlefield preservation and has been used to save more than 30,000 acres of hallowed ground in 20 states in places like Shiloh, Gettysburg and Chickamauga.

H.R. 1179: African-American Burial Grounds Network Act – NPCA supports this legislation to establish within the National Park Service, a network of African American burial ground sites making it possible for the first time to create a national database containing the location and condition of these sites. The need for a network of African American burial ground sites springs largely from the practice throughout the history of this nation of requiring that African Americans be buried separately from whites. Segregated cemeteries for African Americans were not highly regarded by the general public and were frequently uncared for. They have historically been subject to degradation, loss and incompatible development that disturbs human remains. The creation of this network, and national database, will serve as a critical first step towards allowing family members, descendants, stewards, and scholars, the opportunity to visit and care for these burial grounds and to remember and honor our ancestors.

H.R. 1487: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Boundary Adjustment Study Act – NPCA supports this legislation to examine the beaches, wetlands, recreational areas and other natural and cultural resources along Los Angeles’ coastal zone for increased protection and possible inclusion in the National Park System. This zone provides critical habitat for a myriad of native species and significant outdoor recreational opportunities for the nation’s second largest metropolitan area. This study will also examine opportunities for coordination and collaboration with local land management agencies, jurisdictions and communities to preserve the ecological, educational and economic value of these resources.

H.R. 2427: Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Reauthorization Act of 2019 – NPCA supports this legislation to reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network through 2025. Although the Chesapeake Bay has almost 11,000 miles of shoreline, less than 2% is open to the public. The Chesapeake Bay Gateways & Watertrails Network is a federal matching grant program that provides critical funding for increased public access to the Chesapeake Bay. Funding covers projects like building boats ramps & piers, youth education programs, and interpretative exhibits that engage community members with the outdoors. The Gateways program allows more people access to get out and enjoy the Chesapeake Bay.

Separately, NPCA is concerned with the proposed exemption in H.R. 1088 from the Commemorative Works Act (CWA) of 1986. The CWA declared the National Mall essentially a completed work of commemorative art (with noted exceptions having already been approved by Congress) in order to halt what had become its piecemeal development. In 2001, the National Capital Planning Commission identified approximately 100 appropriate sites not on the National Mall for future monuments and memorials. The goal of the Memorials and Museums Master Plan was to balance protecting the beauty and openness of the National Mall with the desire to locate new memorials on prominent areas in the Nation’s Capital. If the purposes and requirements of the CWA need to be reconsidered, such consideration should be undertaken in a comprehensive way.