STATEMENT OF DANIEL N. WENK, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, ATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR BEFORE THE SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS OF THE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 2604 TO ESTABLISH THE BALTIMORE NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA IN THE STATE OF MARYLAND, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
APRIL 23, 2008
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before your committee to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 2604, a bill to establish the Baltimore National Heritage Area in the State of
We recommend that the committee defer action on S. 2604 and all other proposed heritage area designations until program legislation is enacted that establishes guidelines and a process for the designation of national heritage areas.In summer 2006, the Administration sent to Congress a legislative proposal to establish such guidelines and a process for designation.The National Heritage Areas Partnership Act, S. 278, was introduced during the 110th Congress and it incorporated the majority of the provisions of the Administration's proposal. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress on this very important issue.
With 37 national heritage areas designated across 27 states, and more heritage area legislative proposals in the pipeline, the Administration believes it is critical at this juncture for Congress to enact national heritage area program legislation.This legislation would provide a much-needed framework for evaluating proposed national heritage areas, offering guidelines for successful planning and management, clarifying the roles and responsibilities of all parties, and standardizing timeframes and funding for designated areas.Program legislation also would clarify the expectation that heritage areas would work toward self-sufficiency by outlining the necessary steps, including appropriate planning, to achieve that shared goal.
The Baltimore Heritage Area was certified by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority in 2001 as a state heritage area. The Baltimore Heritage Area is managed by the Baltimore City Heritage Area Association, a 40-member board appointed by the Mayor. The Association has a proved track record as a successful coordinating entity among diverse partners in the
The National Park Service reviewed both the updated management action plan and the feasibility study and concurs that the proposed Baltimore National Heritage Area meets required criteria for congressional designation.In 2006, the Baltimore City Heritage Area Association updated the Baltimore City Heritage Area Management Action Plan that serves as a blueprint for protecting historic, cultural and natural resources through activities and investments within the heritage area. In addition, the Association completed a national heritage area feasibility study, based upon the National Park Service criteria, to determine whether the area met the criteria for national heritage area designation.The study concluded that the region met all of the criteria for designation including the existence of significant levels of public support and local commitments necessary for successful planning and implementation of a heritage area.
The proposed heritage area comprises a large swath of the city of
First and foremost amongst these is the defense of
Other resources representing the theme of national identity include the National Road, the Nation's first federally funded interstate transportation route, that begun in 1811 in Baltimore and headed westward. Themes and resources that are also well-represented in the heritage area include maritime history, immigration, and industrialization.
Mr. Chairman, while the proposed Baltimore National Heritage Area contains nationally distinctive natural and cultural resources and meets the established criteria for congressional designation, we would again request that the committee defer action until national heritage area program legislation is enacted. However, if the committee chooses to move ahead with this bill, the Department would recommend that the bill be amended to include an additional requirement for an evaluation to be conducted by the Secretary, three years prior to the cessation of federal funding under this act.The evaluation would examine the accomplishments of the heritage area in meeting the goals of the management plan; analyze the leveraging and impact of investments to the heritage area; identify the critical components of the management structure and sustainability of the heritage area; and recommend what future role, if any, the National Park Service should have with respect to the heritage area.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment. This concludes my prepared remarks and I would be happy to answer any questions that you or the members of the committee may have.