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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 1629




STATEMENT OFDANIEL N. WENK

DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE,

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

BEFORE THE

SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE

 ON NATIONAL PARKS REGARDING S. 1629,

TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR

TO CONDUCT A SPECIAL RESOURCE STUDY

OF THE ARCHEOLOGICAL SITE AND

SURROUNDING LAND OF THE NEW PHILADELPHIA TOWN SITE

 IN THE STATE OF ILLINOIS.

March 17, 2010

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you to provide the Department of the Interior's views on S. 1629, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study of the archeological site and surrounding land of the New Philadelphia town site in the State of Illinois.

The Department supports enactment of S. 1629. However, we believe that priority should be given to the 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.

S. 1629authorizes a special resource study to evaluate the national significance of New Philadelphia, Illinois, and to determine the suitability and feasibility of designating the site as a unit of the National Park System.The bill directs the Secretary in the course of the resource study to consider alternatives for the preservation, protection and interpretation of New Philadelphia, Illinois, by Federal, State or local government entities or any other interested individuals, and to identify the costs estimates for any Federal acquisition, development, interpretation, operation and maintenance associated with the range of management alternatives.We estimate the cost of the resource study to range from $200,000 to $300,000, based on similar types of studies conducted in recent years.

New Philadelphia, located near Barry, Illinois, was founded in 1836 by Frank McWhorter, an enslaved man from Kentucky, who bought his own freedom and the freedom of 15 family members.New Philadelphia is the first known town platted and officially registered by an African American before the Civil War.The rural community situated near the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers flourished at first, but later fell in decline when the railroad bypassed the community in 1869; it was eventually dissolved in 1885.The site of New Philadelphia, an archeological site with no visible above-ground evidence, was designated a National Historic Landmark on January 16, 2009.

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared statement. I would be happy to answer any questions that you or other committee members may have regarding this bill.