Policy Update Christina Hazard Nov 17, 2021

NPCA position on legislation before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Ahead of a business meeting scheduled for November 18th, NPCA sent along the following positions to Senators on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. 

S. 270 – Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site Expansion Act: This legislation expands the boundaries of Brown v. Board in Topeka, Kansas, by adding three affiliated sites in Virginia, Delaware, and DC and one site deemed for acquisition by NPS in South Carolina, all of which support and enhance the agency’s ability to interpret and preserve the story of Brown v. Board of Education. Each of these locations are associated with the three court cases filed in Brown v. Board and their significance has been well-documented. NPCA is highly supportive of the bill language that calls for respectful and thoughtful collaboration with existing local entities by NPS.

S. 491 – York River Wild and Scenic River Act of 2021: NPCA supports this bill, which would promote better access and protect the York River’s natural resources that so many communities depend on for clean water and outdoor recreation like fishing, paddling and more. As a convergence of salt and freshwater, the York River and its many tributaries are home to rare spawning fish like smelt and vast wildlife from spotted salamanders to the long-eared bat. Its wetlands improve the overall health of the watershed and serve as a natural barrier to help absorb storm surges and filter nutrients, combatting the threats of climate change. We welcome the additional protection this designation provides and the benefits it will have for generations to come.

S. 753 - Highlands Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2021: The bill authorizes a critical program that leverages federal and state funding to conserve areas in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. The program will support efforts to allow the ecosystem and wildlife to adapt to changing temperatures and increased rainstorms while increasing access to open green space for the 23 million people that live in the greater NYC metropolitan area. NPCA supports the bill which has proven its effectiveness to protect the Appalachian National Scenic Trail corridor and advances important climate goals.

S.904 - MAPLand Act: NPCA is concerned this legislation will not sufficiently clarify certain important definitions that would modify how this legislation is applied. Specifically, the bill does not define a road, trail or right of way for the purpose of understanding federal ownership. This clarity is important when making management decisions and would enhance the intended outcomes of the proposed legislation.

S. 990 – Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area Reauthorization Act of 2021/S. 1318 – Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area Reauthorization Act: NPCA strongly supports these National Heritage Area (NHA) Reauthorizations. NHAs are highly effective public-private partnerships that empower communities across the country to better protect, interpret, and promote regionally distinct and nationally significant resources. NHAs receive a modest amount of federal funding that, on average, they leverage at a rate of 5 to 1 with money from non-federal sources. Maintaining their eligibility to receive federal funding is critical to success of this public-private partnership model.

S.1317 - Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Boundary Adjustment Act: NPCA strongly supports this simple but important measure to bring this park unit’s visitor center into the monument and under full management of the National Park Service. Due to a historic error, the center is located just outside the monument proper, on land administered by Coconino National Forest. For years, any visitor center improvement or project faced two sets of approval, from both the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture. This legislation solves the problem by transferring jurisdiction of 97.71 acres from the U.S. Forest Service to the National Park Service and has the support of both agencies.

S.1320 - 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 once lived in this isolated area in the southwestern mountains. Cochise County and many nearby towns and Chambers of Commerce support elevating its status to Chiricahua National Park. Recognizing the unit’s remarkable features and national significance, NPCA supports redesignating the site as Chiricahua National Park.

S.1321 - Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Boundary Modification Act of 2021: 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. NPCA supports the modified boundary of the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.

S. 2490 - Blackwell School National Historic Site Act: NPCA supports this legislation, which would designate the Blackwell School site in Marfa, Texas as a National Historic Site. This site commemorates the pride and resiliency of the Mexican American heritage of the region, as well as uncovers the painful past of educational segregation in our country. The Blackwell School site represents the social constructs of American society along the southern US border during each decade of its operation, and despite the ubiquity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries of schools like Blackwell, it is one of only a few remaining structures. This facility remains in good condition, with an active local coalition supporting its preservation with a desire to include this experience as part of the not yet fully told story of the significant role that Latinos have played in our nation’s history, ensuring our national parks can truly tell the story of all Americans.

H.R. 2497 - To establish the Amache National Historic Site in the State of Colorado as a unit of the National Park System, and for other purposes: NPCA supports this legislation, which would establish the Amache National Historic Site. This bill presents the unique opportunity to share and learn from a time in American history that has largely been forgotten: the unconstitutional imprisonment of 7,567 Japanese Americans at the Granada Relocation Center, or Amache, in Southeast Colorado. The designation of this site is the first step toward a telling a more inclusive history of America and honoring the heroic survivors and descendants within the Amache community and intersects with the story of Heart Mountain in Wyoming, Fort Missoula in Montana, and other sites that unjustly incarcerated our fellow American citizens during World War II. Preserving and interpreting Amache, as a National Historic Site, for present and future generations will help the public better understand the unique stories of Japanese Americans at Amache who served our nation in the Armed Forces; worked with farmers to support local agriculture; and built religious institutions and businesses at the site. The longstanding and heroic efforts of Amache survivors, descendants, and other community leaders nationwide to share this story are the reason why it remains alive today. While the story of Amache is first and foremost the story of its survivors and descendants to tell, it is also the story of the courage of the rural, agricultural community surrounding the site to keep this flame alive. Considering the current scourge of anti-Asian American Pacific Islander hate crimes, our country needs places like this more than ever to ensure that these lessons of the past are learned and remembered.

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