Policy Update Sep 29, 2020

NPCA Position on select legislation before the House Committee on Natural Resources

NPCA shared the following position with members ahead of a full committee legislative markup held by the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources scheduled for September 30th, 2020. 

H.R. 970 – Robert E. Lee Statue Removal Act: NPCA strongly supports this legislation which would remove the Robert E. Lee statue on the Antietam National Battlefield. This statue was erected by a private landowner before the property was transferred to the National Park Service. It lacks any historic integrity, placing the Confederate commander on the Union side of the battlefield.

H.R. 3225 – Restoring Community Input and Public Protections in Oil and Gas Leasing Act of 2019: NPCA strongly supports this legislation, which would address the broken oil and gas leasing process as a step toward long-term, sustainable climate solutions. The current leasing system allows for anonymity in who bids for public lands to the benefit of private industry, allows for the BLM to sell an acre of public land for $1.50, has short comment and protest periods and makes environmental review just an option. This bill’s comprehensive approach to reform has been needed. It would better public input in oil and gas lease sales, ensure national park landscapes are considered when the BLM is planning for oil and gas development and increase transparency in the lease sale process. Taken together, these reforms will provide national parks with some relief from this administration’s dangerous ‘energy dominance’ agenda and create stronger protections from the impacts of oil and gas development on federal public lands.

H.R. 3651 - To facilitate the use of certain land in Nebraska for public outdoor recreational opportunities, and for other purposes: NPCA supports this bill as it would increase recreation opportunities and establish a new source of revenue for the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Trail and Visitor Center. The bill would facilitate a partnership with the local municipality to lease underutilized property for community recreation at the site in a manner that is consistent with National Park Service priorities, while maintaining existing trails and generating revenue for the site’s visitor center.

H.R. 4139 - To provide for the boundary of the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Park to be adjusted, to authorize the donation of land to the United States for addition to that historic park, and for other purposes: NPCA supports the boundary adjustment in H.R. 4139 recognizing that the Palo Alto Battlefield is the only National Park Service site to interpret the U.S.-Mexican War, where visitors experience the land almost exactly as it stood during the two-year conflict. The inclusion of the Fort Brown resource to the current site will enable the Park Service to more fully interpret the story of Palo Alto, engaging more of the public in the natural, cultural and historical significance of the site.

H.R. 4840 - Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Boundary Modification Act of 2019: More than a century ago the Park Service 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. H.R. 4840 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 this legislation to modify the boundary of the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.

H.R.5153 - Indian Buffalo Management Act: NPCA supports this legislation, which would expand the capacity of Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations to restore, conserve and enhance buffalo populations and habitat through the establishment of a permanent program for buffalo restoration in the Department of the Interior. Historically buffalo were found throughout North America, including lands that are now designated as national parks. This legislation is an important step in returning and sustaining buffalo on tribal lands and ensuring tribes have access to buffalo for cultural, spiritual and subsistence purposes. The bill also includes a provision which would support the transfer of buffalo from federal lands to tribal lands, which could expand opportunities for disease-free Yellowstone buffalo to be transferred to tribal lands rather than being subjected to the ship-to-slaughter program that takes place yearly.

H.R. 5458 – Rocky Mountain National Park Boundary Modification Act and H.R. 5459 – Rocky Mountain National Park Ownership Correction Act: NPCA supports this legislation, which would convey an additional 40 acres of land to the Rocky Mountain National Park from private ownership. The incorporation of this pristine undeveloped land will further protect the ecological integrity of Rocky Mountain National Park for future generations.

H.R. 5472 - Jimmy Carter National Historical Park Redesignation Act: NPCA supports this legislation which would rename the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site as the ‘‘Jimmy Carter National Historical Park’’ in honor of the 39th president of the United States. President Carter was awarded the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize for his lifelong commitment to advancing democracy and human rights, and finding peaceful solutions to international conflict. One of his signature achievements was the signing, with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, of the Camp David accords in 1978 leading to the peace treaty that ended a 31-year state of war between Egypt and Israel. This bill has the support of the entire Georgia delegation.

H.R. 5598 - Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act: NPCA supports this bill that would permanently protect Voyageurs National Park, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and the surrounding Rainy River Watershed from toxic sulfide-ore copper mining. Acid mine runoff from sulfide-ore copper mining would pollute the groundwater, rivers and lakes in the watershed and irreparably harm the waters this region depends on for drinking, world-class fishing and outdoor recreation. Voyageurs is at the bottom of the watershed in the United States and pollution from sulfide mines as far away as 100 miles could flow downstream into the waters at the national park–threatening public health and the park’s fish, plants, wildlife and valued swimming and paddling.

H.R. 5852 - Weir Farm National Historic Park Redesignation Act: NPCA supports this legislation to redesignate Weir Farm National Historic Site as Weir Farm National Historical Park. The National Historical Park designation applies to sites that extend beyond a single historic feature or property. The Weir Farm National Historic Site not only encompasses the studio and estate of world-renowned Impressionist, J. Alden Weir, but it also protects 60 acres of picturesque fields, wooded forest, moss-covered stonewalls and waterways that inspired generations of artists and helped shape American Impressionism. The redesignation to Weir Farm National Historical Park more accurately reflects the site and the rich cultural heritage of New England and the region’s influence on American Impressionism.

H.R. 7089–Saguaro National Park Boundary Expansion and Study Act of 2020: Saguaro National Park’s two units flank the east and west sides of Tucson’s expanding metropolitan area, protecting magnificent stands of this iconic cactus and providing incredible recreation, tourism opportunities, and habitat protection. This modest boundary expansion would encompass more than one thousand acres of non-federal land adjacent to the park’s current boundaries. With strong support of local landowners and jurisdictions, adding these key parcels will go far toward preserving vital habitat and wildlife connectivity, protecting recreational opportunities, and enhancing a wonderful national park. NPCA supports passage of H.R. 7098 to expand and study the boundary of Saguaro National Park.