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U.S. Department of the Interior - Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs
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Parks, Trails and Heritage Sites Legislation: S 1537




STATEMENT OF DANIEL N. WENK,

DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE,

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,

BEFORE THE

SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE

ON NATIONAL PARKS, CONCERNING S. 1537,

TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR,

ACTING THROUGH THE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE,

TO DESIGNATE THE DR. NORMAN E. BORLAUG BIRTHPLACE

AND CHILDHOOD HOME IN CRESCO, IOWA,

AS A NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE AND AS A UNIT OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM.

March 17, 2010

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify on S. 1537, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Director of the National Park Service, to designate the Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Birthplace and Childhood Home in Cresco, Iowa, as a National Historic Site and as a unit of the National Park System.

The Department supports the effort to honor Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, but would like to work with the committee to amend S. 1537 to authorize a study of his birthplace and childhood home instead of designating it at this time as a new Park Service unit.

S. 1537 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to designate the Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Birthplace and Childhood Home as a National Historic Site if the Secretary acquires fee simple and unencumbered title to the Norman E. Borlaug property by donation from the Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation.The Secretary would administer the unit in accordance with laws generally applicable to preserving national historic sites.

The homes and sites of renowned American scientists, artists and humanitarians provide a valuable link to understanding our country's history and achievements and are an important part of our national heritage.Dr. Norman E. Borlaug's scientific and humanitarian achievements certainly place him in this illustrious group.

Norman Borlaug grew up on a family farm outside of Cresco, Iowa.He was a strong and vigorous young man who could perform prodigious amounts of manual labor in the fields and used this strength as a competitive, trained athlete in his high school and college days.He was always interested in agriculture and felt the need to help the poor in the world.His interests and work led him to become one of the greatest humanitarians of all times.

Dr. Borlaug was a central figure in the "green revolution."During the 1960s over a period of four years, he was instrumental in helping farmers in India increase wheat production by an order greater than that achieved during the preceding 4,000 years.He also enabled developing countries to move toward achieving a balance between population growth and food production.

Dr. Borlaug received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his accomplishments in India and Pakistan and for his role as the "Father of the Green Revolution", the only person working in agriculture to ever be so honored.Since then, he has received numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Public Service Medal.He created the World Food Prize in 1986, which is the Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture.The headquarters of the World Food Prize is located in Des Moines, Iowa.The life and achievements of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug have contributed extensively to alleviating world hunger in countries such as Canada, India, Mexico, Latin America, Norway, Pakistan, and the United States.

The purchase and restoration of the birthplace and 106–acre childhood home and farm is being undertaken by the Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization, formed to promote Dr. Borlaug's lifetime achievements and philosophy through education programs and projects at Dr. Borlaug's birthplace, childhood home, and one-room schoolhouse.

The National Park System includes many previous residences of distinguished Americans such as Benjamin Franklin, Clara Barton, and Thomas Edison. However, there are also many residences of distinguished Americans that are not part of the system. A study would look at whether the Federal government is the most appropriate entity to manage the site. Conducting a professional study allows Congress to be sure it is protecting an area that meets the criteria for inclusion into the National Park System.

With respect to historical sites, a study would not only look at whether the event or person associated with the site was historically significant, but it would also look at the integrity of the buildings, and other factors, such as whether there are other sites that might more appropriately tell the story associated with a particular individual.

A study also will enable the NPS and the Congress to identify the costs in acquiring, restoring, and operating a potential site.We believe the information gathered during the study process is invaluable and better ensures the NPS can continue its progress in addressing deferred maintenance and other needs in our national parks amidst financial challenges.

We recommend that the subcommittee amend S. 1537 to authorize a study of the Borlaug home, farm, and one-room school house to determine whether they conform to the criteria for potential new units of the National Park System.We estimate the cost of the study to be approximately $250,000 to $300,000.We would be glad to work with the subcommittee on the appropriate language.We do note that at present there are already 47 previously authorized studies for potential units of the National Park System, potential new National Heritage Areas, and potential additions to the National Trails System and National Wild and Scenic River System that have not yet been transmitted to the Congress.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to comment.This concludes my prepared remarks and I will be happy to answer any questions you or other subcommittee members might have.