Amache National Historic Site Act
STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, FOR THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS, AND PUBLIC LANDS, CONCERNING H.R. 2497, TO ESTABLISH THE AMACHE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE IN THE STATE OF COLORADO AS A UNIT OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
April 21, 2021
Chairman Neguse, Ranking Member Fulcher, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to provide the Department of the Interior’s (Department) views on H.R. 2497, to establish the Amache National Historic Site in the State of Colorado as a unit of the National Park System, and for other purposes.
The Department recognizes the important contribution to America’s story that is represented by the site known as Amache, where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II. Congress authorized the Amache Special Resource Study as part of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (P.L. 116-9), enacted on March 12, 2019. The NPS initiated civic engagement for the study in early 2020 and continues to work with the public and key stakeholders to gather information. In May, the bureau will host three virtual public meetings. Each meeting will provide an opportunity for participants to ask questions and provide comments on the study. After reviewing the comments, the NPS will draft its assessment of whether the site meets the congressionally established criteria for inclusion in the National Park System, and the Department will transmit the study and recommendations to Congress.
H.R. 2497 would establish the Amache National Historic Site as a unit of the National Park System when the Secretary of the Interior acquires sufficient land within the boundary of the site to constitute a manageable unit. The boundaries of the unit would be determined by a map that would be developed after enactment of the bill. The NPS would be required to develop a management plan for the site that does not interfere with existing use of existing facilities at the site. The bill would also allow for the establishment of administrative, visitor service, and curatorial facilities outside the boundaries of the site and for entering into agreements with other public and private entities to establish those facilities and for other purposes.
Originally known as the Granada Relocation Center, Amache was one of ten incarceration sites established by the War Relocation Authority during World War II to forcibly remove, illegally detain, and incarcerate U.S. citizens and legal residents of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast of the United States under the terms of Executive Order 9066. Amache was constructed on approximately 10,000 acres of land and held about 10,000 people of Japanese descent between 1942 and 1945. It is located approximately one mile from the Town of Granada in southeastern Colorado. Amache was designated by the Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark on February 10, 2006.
The Amache Preservation Society currently maintains the physical site, where visitors can observe a historic cemetery, a monument, concrete building foundations, a road network, and other elements of the historic landscape that remain intact. Recent efforts to preserve Amache have led to the restoration of the original water tower, the reconstruction of a guard tower and residential barracks, and the current rehabilitation of a historic recreation hall. The Town of Granada owns the site and the NPS has provided technical and financial assistance through the Heritage Partnerships Program, the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program, and through Bent's Old Fort and Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Sites.
If the Committee decides to act on this legislation, we would like to work with you on amendments and a legislative map.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide this statement for the record.