Chisholm National Historic Trail and Western National Historic Trail Designation Act
STATEMENT OF TOM MEDEMA, ACTING ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, INTERPRETATION, EDUCATION, AND VOLUNTEERS, 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. 2512, A BILL TO DESIGNATE THE CHISHOLM NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL AND THE WESTERN NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL AS PART OF THE NATIONAL TRAILS SYSTEM, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
November 9, 2021
Chairman Neguse, Ranking Member Fulcher, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior (Department) on H.R. 2512, a bill to amend the National Trails System Act, and designate the Chisholm National Historic Trail and the Western National Historic Trail, and for other purposes.
The Department supports H.R. 2512 and the designation of the Chisholm National Historic Trail and Western National Historic Trail with technical amendments. The Department recognizes the important contribution to America’s ranching story that is represented by the Chisholm National Historic Trail and the Western National Historic Trail. The development and intensive use of these trails played an important role in the economic recovery of Texas and other western States following the Civil War.
H.R. 2512 would establish the Chisholm National Historic Trail and the Western National Historic Trail and allows the Secretary of the Interior to administer the trails as a single administrative unit. The National Park Service (NPS) conducted a national historic trail feasibility study in accordance with the National Trails System Act and associated criteria. The NPS completed civic engagement and public review stages of the Chisholm and Great Western Historic Trails Feasibility Study/Environmental Assessment in January 2015 and noted public support. Also, during the study in 2012, the National Park System Advisory Board concurred that the trail routes and themes were historically and nationally significant. The final feasibility study was transmitted to Congress in May 2019 and found the trails to be eligible for designation to the National Trails System.
The trails include approximately 2,548 miles of routes passing through the States of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska as generally depicted on the maps numbered as 1 through 6 in the national trail feasibility study entitled “Chisholm and Great Western National Historic Trails Feasibility Study/Environmental Assessment” and dated May 2019. Following designation, the Department of the Interior would delegate the trails to the agency that would serve as the federal national trail administrator, likely the NPS as recommended in the feasibility study. The comprehensive plan would then be initiated, pending appropriations, for the trails to guide administration, management, and coordination among partners of both trails towards the goals of national historic trail components of the National Trails System for the American public.
If the Committee decides to act on this legislation, we would like to work with you on technical amendments to H.R. 2512.
Chairman Neguse, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I would be happy to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.