Policy Update Jun 18, 2019

Position on S. 225, S. 298, S. 327, S. 641, S. 774, S. 1152 & S. 1582

NPCA submitted the following positions to members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks ahead of a hearing scheduled for June 19, 2019.

S. 225: 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.

S. 298: Springfield Race Riot National Historic Monument Act – The proposed Springfield Race Riot National Historic Monument tells the story of a 1908 riot in Springfield, Illinois that pitted whites against blacks in vigilante justice. The riot led to the lynching of two prominent members of the black community and one year later, this event led to creation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. NPCA maintains that these stories are unique and a significant part of our heritage and deserve recognition but has a neutral position on S. 298 at this time. The National Park Service, at the request of Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) is currently completing a Reconnaissance Survey of the site; in doing so, the Park Service will analyze the significance, feasibility and suitability of the site becoming a unit of the National Park System. NPCA supports the significant stories told by this potential site and wants the Park Service to complete their analysis regarding the feasibility and suitability of their direct management of this site before we confirm our support of establishment legislation.

S. 327: Wounded Veterans Recreation Act – NPCA supports this legislation to amend 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 that would allow our disabled veterans who have proudly served their country to enjoy our national parks free of charge.

S. 641: Yucca House National Monument Boundary Revision Act – NPCA supports this legislation to revise the boundary of Yucca House National Monument to include 160 additional acres that have been offered as a donation. As an unexcavated, ancestral Puebloan site, Yucca House is a regionally and nationally significant archaeological and cultural resource that was entrusted to the American public as a national monument in 1919. Unfortunately, for many years, the public’s access to the monument has been restricted and impractical because the monument shares a driveway with a working ranch. This has caused confusion and management challenges for the National Park Service. S. 641 would help alleviate these challenges; a neighboring landowner has agreed to donate a 160-acre parcel to the National Park Service in order to adjust its boundary, providing space for a new trailhead and a parking lot away from the ranch.

S. 774 – Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act: From the Santa Susana Mountains to the heart of the city at El Pueblo de Los Angeles, the Rim of the Valley is an area rich in historic and cultural sites and critical wildlife corridors, waterways and landscapes worthy of national recognition and protection by the National Park Service. With more than 17 million people, the Los Angeles Metropolitan area is the second most populous region of the country; yet has less open space per capita than all other large cities on the west coast. NPCA supports the Rim of the Valley legislation that represents an opportunity to better protect and manage some of the region’s last wild lands, open spaces—including habitat for threatened species ranging from the mountain lion to the red-legged frog—and historic sites that will allow the National Park Service to tell the story of Los Angeles’s rich and nationally-significant history. The expanded presence of the National Park Service will also facilitate new partnerships with schools, local governments and community-based organizations to improve outreach and Park Service-led interpretive programs, better connect youth and families to the outdoors and build a new generation of national park enthusiasts. Additionally, the adjustment in S. 774 respects local land use authorities, forbids the use of eminent domain and has no impact on rights of private property owners.

S. 1152: A bill to provide for the transfer of administrative jurisdiction over certain parcels of Federal land in Arlington, Virginia – NPCA opposes this bill to transfer over 16 acres of National Park Service (NPS) land adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery to the U.S. Army in exchange for just one acre of federal land in the same area. If approved, this land transfer could not only alter the historic character of Memorial Avenue and further shrink the National Park System footprint, it would be completed without a reasonable process to engage the public in this significant change. The Memorial Bridge and Avenue project was designed and built almost a century ago to symbolize the strength of a re-united nation by physically linking the Lincoln Memorial and the home of Robert E. Lee, two opposing leaders during the U.S. Civil War. The U.S. Army’s reasonable concerns about the current condition of Memorial Avenue could be addressed by Congress directly funding the NPS to complete needed repairs and maintenance.

Moreover, we are concerned that, only a few years after almost one-third of Arlington House’s acreage was taken for the Millennium Project, once again national park land is proposed to be taken to expand the national cemetery. We ask that the Army commit to respecting Arlington House’s and other national park grounds for their meaning and purpose in our American story.

S. 1582: A bill to establish the White Sands National Park in the State of New Mexico as a unit of the National Park System – NPCA supports this legislation to establish White Sands National Park. White Sands is a beautiful, iconic, world-class natural and cultural landscape important to local communities and to visitors from around the globe, worthy of the highest level of protection available. It is the largest and most visited park site in the state of New Mexico—the tourism economy of Otero and Doña Ana Counties will benefit directly from a new designation for the site through estimated additional annual revenues of up to $7,458,000 and the creation of up to 107 new jobs, per a new report from Headwaters Economics.