STATEMENT OF DANIEL N. WENK,
DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE,
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE
ON NATIONAL PARKS, CONCERNING S. 1537,
TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR,
ACTING THROUGH THE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE,
TO DESIGNATE THE DR. NORMAN E. BORLAUG BIRTHPLACE
AND CHILDHOOD HOME IN CRESCO, IOWA,
AS A NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE AND AS A UNIT OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM.
March 17, 2010
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify on S. 1537, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Director of the National Park Service, to designate the Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Birthplace and Childhood Home in Cresco, Iowa, as a National Historic Site and as a unit of the National Park System.
The Department supports the effort to honor Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, but would like to work with the committee to amend S. 1537 to authorize a study of his birthplace and childhood home instead of designating it at this time as a new Park Service unit.
S. 1537 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to designate the Dr.
The homes and sites of renowned American scientists, artists and humanitarians provide a valuable link to understanding our country's history and achievements and are an important part of our national heritage.Dr. Norman E. Borlaug's scientific and humanitarian achievements certainly place him in this illustrious group.
Norman Borlaug grew up on a family farm outside of
Dr. Borlaug was a central figure in the "green revolution."During the 1960s over a period of four years, he was instrumental in helping farmers in
Dr. Borlaug received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his accomplishments in
The purchase and restoration of the birthplace and 106–acre childhood home and farm is being undertaken by the Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization, formed to promote Dr. Borlaug's lifetime achievements and philosophy through education programs and projects at Dr. Borlaug's birthplace, childhood home, and one-room schoolhouse.
The National Park System includes many previous residences of distinguished Americans such as Benjamin Franklin, Clara Barton, and Thomas Edison. However, there are also many residences of distinguished Americans that are not part of the system. A study would look at whether the Federal government is the most appropriate entity to manage the site. Conducting a professional study allows Congress to be sure it is protecting an area that meets the criteria for inclusion into the National Park System.
With respect to historical sites, a study would not only look at whether the event or person associated with the site was historically significant, but it would also look at the integrity of the buildings, and other factors, such as whether there are other sites that might more appropriately tell the story associated with a particular individual.
A study also will enable the NPS and the Congress to identify the costs in acquiring, restoring, and operating a potential site.We believe the information gathered during the study process is invaluable and better ensures the NPS can continue its progress in addressing deferred maintenance and other needs in our national parks amidst financial challenges.
We recommend that the subcommittee amend S. 1537 to authorize a study of the Borlaug home, farm, and one-room school house to determine whether they conform to the criteria for potential new units of the National Park System.We estimate the cost of the study to be approximately $250,000 to $300,000.We would be glad to work with the subcommittee on the appropriate language.We do note that at present there are already 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.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to comment.This concludes my prepared remarks and I will be happy to answer any questions you or other subcommittee members might have.