NPCA submitted the following positions to members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks ahead of a legislative hearing scheduled for March 4th, 2020.
H.R. 182/S.508 – To extend the authorization for the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission: NPCA supports this legislation, which would extend authorization for the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission through September 26, 2028. The Commission, originally authorized in 1961, serves as an invaluable resource, allowing for the National Park Service (NPS) and Secretary of the Interior to work in partnership with six towns within the Seashore boundary along with Barnstable County and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Commission expired on September 26, 2018 and NPCA supports reauthorization through 2028 to continue offering guidance to NPS and providing local officials and community members a critical voice in future management of the seashore.
S. 1863 - Julius Rosenwald and the Rosenwald Schools Act of 2019 - NPCA supports this legislation to require the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study of the sites associated with the life and legacy of the noted American philanthropist and business executive Julius Rosenwald, with a special focus on the Rosenwald Schools. Julius Rosenwald, son of Jewish, German immigrants, entered the retail clothing trade and eventually became part-owner and president of Sears, Roebuck & Company, which he transformed into a retailing powerhouse in the early 20th century. Rosenwald put his money to philanthropic use by financially contributing to the cause of African American education, ultimately helping to construct more than 5,300 Rosenwald Schools over a 20-year period in 15 southern States. During the 1920’s through the 1940’s, one third of all African American children in the South were educated in Rosenwald schools. Rosenwald’s remarkable contributions to education played a significant role in narrowing the gap between the educational levels of Black and White students in the South, making him more than deserving of recognition through the establishment of National Historical Sites.
S. 2340 - Cahokia Mounds Mississippian Culture National Historical Park Act: The proposed Cahokia Mounds Mississippian Culture National Historical Park provides an opportunity for NPS to preserve and interpret the historical, cultural and natural resources associated with the life of the Mississippian Culture in three counties of Illinois and one of Missouri. This site is an established Illinois State Historic Site as well as a World Heritage Site. Currently managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, this site is the state’s most-visited historic site. NPCA supports an NPS partnership presence at this site; however, we encourage the Park Service to first carefully consider which lands they acquire to constitute a manageable unit as the legislation requires. NPCA supports a site that is co-managed by the Park Service and Illinois Department of Natural Resources, a partnership that has worked well at Chicago’s Pullman National Monument and State Historic Site.
S. 2827 – U.S. African-American Burial Grounds Network Act: NPCA supports this legislation to establish within NPS, 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.
S. 2924 – To establish the Bandelier National Park and Preserve in the State of New Mexico: NPCA opposes this bill to change protections in this national park unit, specifically opening it to hunting. We are concerned that S. 2924 could set a precedent of opening existing acreage in a national park unit to hunting, effectively reducing existing protections for park resources, rather than enhancing them. NPCA is not opposed to hunting on principle or appropriate culling where necessary; however, unlike other park units where a unit change to add hunting also added protections or acreage to the park overall, sites like the Valles Caldera and Great Sand Dunes. Further, the ability of local NPS staff to manage resources and activities that have been abdicated to another unit, as in S.2924 creates additional management confusion and concern. NPCA supports many of the tribal provisions in this legislation and thanks Senator Heinrich for this inclusive approach, which we would like to see in more federal lands’ legislation. We question the need for the Tribal Commission for this particular park, which has a long and successful history of healthy working relations and meaningful consultation with affiliated tribes.
S. 3121 – Chiricahua National Park Act: Visitors to Chiricahua National Monument experience a “wonderland of rocks” whether they stop at viewpoints to overlook the vast fields of rock pinnacles or walk on trails that wind through these amazing formations. The monument protects beautiful forests and wildlife, and the well-preserved Faraway Ranch helps us understand how settlers to this isolated area in the Southwestern mountains once lived. Cochise County and many nearby towns and Chambers of Commerce support elevating this place by designating it Chiricahua National Park. Recognizing the unit’s remarkable features and local support, NPCA too supports S. 3121 to establish the Chiricahua National Park as a unit of the National Park System.
S. 3119 – Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Boundary Modification Act of 2019 - More than a century ago we protected the impressively massive “Great House” by creating the 480-acre Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. This bill adds increased protections to about 415 acres of key archaeological sites to tell the full story of the unit’s Hohokam occupants, who flourished in the harsh desert of central Arizona until around 1450. Supported by city and county elected officials and the nearby Gila River Indian Community, this bill specifically includes culture-rich parcels on the west, north and east sides of the monument, and a prehistoric platform mound and ballcourt site even further east. It also resolves a troublesome boundary between the monument and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) by giving the BIA full control of an irrigation canal it operates on the monument’s southern boundary. In sum, NPCA supports passage of S. 3119 to modify the boundary of the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.