Parks and Lands Bills: S 1168 and HR 1694



STATEMENT OF KATHERINE H. STEVENSON, 

ACTING DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, 

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, 

BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE, 

CONCERNING H.R. 1694 AND S. 1168, 

A BILL TO AUTHORIZE THE ACQUISITION AND PROTECTION

OF NATIONALLY SIGNIFICANT BATTLEFIELDS AND ASSOCIATED SITES 

OF THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR AND THE WAR OF 1812 

UNDER THE AMERICAN BATTLEFIELD PROTECTION PROGRAM

JULY 15, 2009


Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 1168 and H.R. 1694, to amend Sec. 7301 of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-11) to authorize the acquisition and protection of nationally significant battlefields and associated sites of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 under the American Battlefield Protection Program.

The Department supports S. 1168 and H.R. 1694 with an amendment to include language that passed the House on April 21, 2009.

In March 2008, the National Park Service transmitted the Report to Congress on the Historic Preservation of Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 Sites in the United States, which identified and determined the relative significance of sites related to the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.The study assessed the short and long-term threats to the sites.Following the success of the 1993 Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report on the Nation's Civil War Battlefields, this study similarly provides alternatives for the preservation and interpretation of the sites by Federal, State, and local governments or other public or private entities.

The direction from Congress for the study was the same as for a Civil War sites study of the early 1990s.As authorized by Congress for this study, the National Park Service looked at sites and structures that are thematically tied with the nationally significant events that occurred during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.The result was a more thorough survey that represents twice the field effort undertaken for the Civil War study.

Building upon this recent study, S. 1168 and H.R. 1694 would create a matching grant program for Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 sites that closely mirrors a very successful matching grant program for Civil War sites.The Civil War acquisition grant program was first authorized by Congress in the Civil War Battlefield Protection Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-359), and was recently reauthorized by the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-11).

That grant fund has been tremendously successful in allowing local preservation efforts to permanently preserve Civil War battlefield land with a minimum of Federal assistance.Grants of $26.3 million from the National Park Service have leveraged a total of $55.3 million in nonfederal funding.To date, the grant program has assisted in the permanent protection of 13,906 acres at 54 Civil War battlefields.In FY 2009, $4 million was appropriated for this program.The President's FY 2010 Budget also includes a request for $4 million.

With the release of the Report to Congress on the Historic Preservation of Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 Sites in the United States, communities interested in preserving their Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 sites can take the first steps similar to what the Civil War advocates did 15 years ago.If established, this new grant program can complement the existing grant program for Civil War battlefields and, in doing so, become a benefit to the American people by providing for the preservation and protection of a greater number of sites from the Revolutionary War and War 1812.All funds are subject to NPS priorities and the availability of appropriations

The Department recommends an amendment to S. 1168 and H.R. 1694 to include language that passed the House on April 21, 2009.In the introduced version of H.R. 1694, there was a $10 million annual authorization for the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 acquisition grant program.This funding level was separate and in addition to the $10 million annual authorization for the existing Civil War acquisition grant program.On April 21, 2009, the House-passed version of H.R. 1694 included language that provided a combined funding of $20 million for both acquisition grant programs in each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014.However, we understand that this language was inadvertently dropped by the House legislative clerk when the bill was engrossed and sent to the Senate.

When the bill was introduced in the Senate as S. 1168, it also did not contain the authorization language for the acquisition grant program and we understand this was an inadvertent error on the sponsor's part.We recommend adding the House-passed funding language.We also support the increased authorization level as there are two separate constituencies for these programs.The language of the amendment is attached.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony.I would be pleased to respond to any questions from you and members of the committee.

 

Proposed amendment to H.R. 1694 and S. 1168:

H.R. 1694, as engrossed by the House:

On page 3, after line 16, add the following:

"(8) In paragraph (8) (as so redesignated), by striking '$10,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2009 through 2013' and inserting '20,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014'."

S. 1168, as introduced:

On page 3, after line 14, add the following:

"(8) In paragraph (8) (as so redesignated), by striking '$10,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2009 through 2013' and inserting '20,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014'."