A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
STATEMENT OF DANIEL N. WENK, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING H.R. 1047, A BILL TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO CONDUCT A STUDY TO DETERMINE THE SUITABILITY AND FEASIBILITY OF DESIGNATING THE SOLDIERS' MEMORIAL MILITARY MUSEUM LOCATED IN ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, AS A UNIT OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM
April 26, 2007
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the Department of the Interior's views on H.R. 1047, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study to determine the suitability and feasibility of designating the Soldiers' Memorial Military Museum located in St. Louis, Missouri, as a unit of the National Park System.
The Department opposes H.R. 1047, which is identical to legislation the Department opposed in the 109th Congress. While it is an architecturally beautiful structure, the St. Louis Soldiers' Memorial (Memorial) is not distinguished beyond that of many other war memorials in cities all over the United States. The Memorial is currently listed as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, but at this time has not been nominated. Therefore, it is not known whether it meets the criteria for national significance, which is the minimum standard a memorial must meet for inclusion in the National Park System. Finally, in a time of tight budgets and a refocusing on the core mission of the National Park Service, we believe that funding should be directed toward completing previously authorized studies.
The Soldiers' Memorial is a tribute to and a cultural resource center for all veterans located in the greater St. Louis area, including southern Illinois. In 1923, the residents of St. Louis voted to purchase a memorial plaza and construct a memorial to commemorate the citizens of St. Louis who lost their lives in World War I. A seven-block site was purchased and the construction of the Soldiers' Memorial began on October 21, 1935. President Franklin D. Roosevelt officially dedicated the site on October 14, 1936 and the building was opened to the public on Memorial Day in 1938. H.R. 1047 would authorize a study of the Soldiers' Memorial Military Museum at 1315 Chestnut Street in the greater St. Louis area to determine its eligibility to become a unit of the National Park System. The study would be conducted in accordance with the criteria contained in Section 8(c) of Public Law 91-383 (16 U.S.C. 1a-5(c)).
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared testimony. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or the subcommittee may have.