STATEMENT OF KATHERINE H. STEVENSON,
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, BUSINESS SERVICES,
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS
OF THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE
ON H.R. 1287,
A BILL TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR
TO ENTER INTO A PARTNERSHIP WITH THE PORTER COUNTY CONVENTION,
RECREATION AND VISITOR COMMISSION
REGARDING THE USE OF THE DOROTHY BUELL MEMORIAL VISITOR CENTER
AS A VISITOR CENTER FOR THE INDIANA DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE,
AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
November 4, 2009
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. 1287, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to enter into a partnership with the Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitor Commission regarding the use of the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center as a visitor center for the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and for other purposes.
The Department supports H.R. 1287 as passed by the House with technical amendments.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was established as a unit of the National Park System in 1966.It lies on the southern tip of
A partnership to acquire land for a new site was initiated.A more prominent location outside the national lakeshore but within the primary travel corridor to the dunes was selected.Using a series of Transportation Enhancement grants, the PCCRVC purchased the land, which is located approximately three quarters of a mile south of the national lakeshore boundary on IN 49, the principal north/south artery into the national lakeshore and secured a contract for construction.The new
The NPS currently has an interim lease of the space in the new visitor facility and is in the process of securing a General Service Administration lease agreement for offices, storage, exhibits, bookstore, and a theatre.The payments for this lease come from funds in the park's authorized annual operating budget.
H.R. 1287 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to enter into an agreement with the PCCRVC that would outline the terms of the partnership, including cooperative management of the new visitor facility and sharing of operational activities.The two parties will jointly plan and staff the new visitor center and offer "one-stop shopping," with exhibits and theater space to educate visitors about the resources found in the park, aspects of threatened and endangered species management, habitat preservation, and wetlands restoration.
H.R. 1287 would also authorize $1,500,000 to plan, design, construct, and install exhibits to be placed in the new facility for visitor information and education.The space leased by the National Park Service (NPS) includes room for exhibits, offices, a theatre, and a bookstore.All funds are subject to NPS priorities and the availability of appropriations.
H.R. 1287 also would amend Section 19 of Public Law 89-761 to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to accept donated lands that are considered contiguous to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore but physically separated from the boundary by a public or private right-of-way, such as a road, railroad, or utility corridors.
The park is segmented with numerous isolated parcels.The northern portion of
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to comment.We look forward to working with the Committee to provide technical amendments to the bill.This concludes my prepared remarks and I will be happy to answer any questions you or other committee members might have.