STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE,
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS AND PUBLIC LANDS,
OF THE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES,
CONCERNING H.R. 2689,
A BILL TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR
TO STUDY THE SUITABILITY AND FEASIBILITY OF
DESIGNATING THE NATIONAL D-DAY MEMORIAL IN BEDFORD, VIRGINIA,
AS A UNIT OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM
October 1, 2009
Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on H.R. 2689, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to study the suitability and feasibility of designating the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, as a unit of the National Park System.
The Department recommends deferring action on H.R. 2689 to allow the National Park Service to complete a report on a preliminary assessment, requested by Secretary Salazar, as to whether the D-Day Memorial would be eligible for inclusion into the National Park System.This would also give the Secretary an opportunity to review the report and to share its contents with the members of the
H.R. 2689 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study to determine the feasibility and suitability of designating the National D-Day Memorial in
The landing of Allied forces on the beaches of
The National D-Day Memorial is located on an 88-acre site in
The memorial was designated a National Memorial by Congress in Title X, Section 1080 of the National Defense Authorizations Act of 1997 (Public Law 104-201). It was largely constructed through private fund raising efforts of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation (Foundation) and was dedicated on June 6, 2001 by President George W. Bush. The Foundation continues to complete construction and manage the memorial, but has encountered severe financial difficulties in meeting its close to $2.4 million annual operational costs. The memorial is open for visitation 362 days a year and received approximately 80,000 visitors between July 2008 and June 2009. Approximately 19,000 of these visitors came during the month of June due to the observance of the 65th anniversary of D-Day. The Foundation records revenues of $509,653 and slightly over $1 million in contributions for this 12-month period.
On June 25, 2009, ten members of the Virginia congressional delegation, including this bill's sponsor and co-sponsors, wrote to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar requesting that he work with President Barak Obama to establish the D-Day Memorial as a National Monument pursuant to the authorities granted to the President by the Antiquities Act of 1906, and that management of the monument be undertaken by the National Park Service. Secretary Salazar responded to the request on August 6, 2009 indicating that he had asked a team of National Park Service representatives to conduct a site visit to the memorial to undertake a preliminary assessment as to whether it may be eligible for inclusion into the National Park System. The Secretary further indicated that he would share the team's report with the delegation once it was completed.
On August 25 and 26, a National Park Service team toured the site and met with Foundation staff, including its executive director. The team received a great deal of information regarding the design and construction of the memorial, current visitor services and interpretation, and maintenance and operational protocols and costs.The team is currently in the process of analyzing the documents provided and expects to complete its report to Secretary Salazar this fall.
In light of this current analysis, the Department believes it is premature to consider the authorization of a Special Resource Study. We respectfully request that the committee defer action on this bill until the Secretary has had an opportunity to review the National Park Service team report and to share its contents with the members of the
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my testimony. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or members of the committee may have regarding the Department's position on this legislation.