Press Release Nov 1, 2011

National Parks Group Applauds President Obama for Designating 396th National Park Site at Fort Monroe in Virginia

Obama's first Antiquities Act designation will help protect America's Heritage

Statement by National Parks Conservation Association President Tom Kiernan

Background: The long overdue demise of slavery in Virginia began at Fort Monroe in May of 1861 when three enslaved men sought refuge at Freedom’s Fortress with 10,000 more African American men and women following in their footsteps. The rich history of Fort Monroe is supplemented by a natural landscape which includes two miles of beachfront as well as inland areas perfect for birding and other outdoor recreation.

“The National Parks Conservation Association applauds President Obama’s foresight in designating a new national monument at Fort Monroe in Virginia. As America’s next great urban national park, Fort Monroe National Monument will protect an important part of this nation’s heritage while generating jobs and economic activity that will have local and national benefits. Today’s proclamation ensures that our heritage will be preserved for future generations and that the economic benefits of a national park—jobs, heritage tourism, tax credits, and job-creating historic preservation initiatives— will be conveyed to Fort Monroe and its adjacent communities. A study commissioned by NPCA found that every federal dollar invested in national parks generates at least four dollars of economic value to the public.

“Preserving Freedom’s Fortress while America commemorates the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War is wonderful expression of this Administration’s commitment to protecting our heritage. It is fitting that President Obama’s first Antiquities Act proclamation today honors Fort Monroe, which began America’s road from Civil War to Civil Rights more than 150 years ago. The widespread support and tireless efforts of so many elected officials, partner groups and Virginia residents made today’s designation a reality.

“The addition of Fort Monroe to the National Park System provides the priceless opportunity for all Americans to reflect upon and honor the legacy of those brave men and women who risked all to make the perilous journey from slavery to freedom. The National Park Service is the caretaker of our prized historical landmarks and as part of the National Park System; the story of Fort Monroe will be preserved and shared with all Americans.

“We look forward to working with the Administration and the state of Virginia to continue advancing the protection of this remarkable place to ensure our shared heritage is protected for future generations to enjoy.”

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About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.

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