To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to designate the September 11th National Memorial Trail
STATEMENT OF JOY BEASLEY, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, CULTURAL RESOURCES, PARTNERSHIPS, AND SCIENCE, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS, AND PUBLIC LANDS, CONCERNING H.R. 2278, A BILL TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO DESIGNATE THE SEPTEMBER 11TH NATONAL MEMORIAL TRAIL, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
MAY 27, 2021
Chairman Neguse, Ranking Member Fulcher, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to provide the Department of the Interior’s views on H.R. 2278, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to designate the September 11th National Memorial Trail, and for other purposes.
The Department supports H.R. 2278 with amendments. The trail route authorized by this bill would serve as a tribute to the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the heroes who responded to those attacks. If enacted this year, this bill would help mark the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
H.R. 2278 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to designate the September 11th National Memorial Trail Route, a triangular route of approximately 1,300 miles that would link the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City, the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The bill provides that the trail route would be administered through the Flight 93 National Memorial, the only one of these three memorials administered by the National Park Service, and it specifies a range of activities to be undertaken by the Secretary in support of the designation. The bill further authorizes the Secretary to enter into cooperative agreements and memoranda of understanding with, and provide technical and financial assistance to, other Federal agencies, the State, localities, regional governmental bodies, and private entities.
The Department recommends amending the bill in several ways. First, we suggest that the bill establish the trail route upon enactment, rather than by the Secretary, and that it provide more specificity in the location of the trail by referencing a map that delineates the route. Currently, the bill contains a narrative description that does not give a complete picture of the location of route. Second, because there are other National Park Service parks and programs that could assume responsibility for administration of the trail route, we recommend deleting the requirement that it be administered specifically by Flight 93 National Memorial. We further recommend clarifying that the trail route would not be a unit of the National Park System or part of the National Trail System, since it would be an entity different from either of those types of designations.
In addition, we recommend addressing potential conflicts with the Commemorative Works Act (Act; 40 U.S.C. §§8901-8910) (CWA) that could arise from H.R. 2278. The CWA governs the establishment process for memorials located in the District of Columbia or its environs that are under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service or the General Services Administration. This could mean that at most a small portion of the trail could be subject to the CWA. The CWA defines a commemorative work as “any statue, monument, sculpture, memorial, plaque, inscription, or other structure or landscape feature...designed to perpetuate in a permanent manner the memory of an individual, group, event or other significant element of American history...”. As a landscape feature, the proposed September 11th Memorial Trail Route fits within this definition. While it does not appear to be the intent of the bill to establish a new memorial, the placement of signage or plaques associated with the proposed trail could be subject to CWA. We recommend including language that would resolve any conflicts with the CWA without undermining the law’s intent.
We would be happy to work with the sponsor and the Committee to develop a legislative map and amendments for the purposes described in this statement.
Chairman Neguse, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.