To establish the Steel Valley National Heritage Area in the States of Pennsylvania and Ohio
STATEMENT OF P. DANIEL SMITH, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, EXERCISING THE AUTHORITY OF THE DIRECTOR, 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. 2525, A BILL TO ESTABLISH THE STEEL VALLEY NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA IN THE STATES OF PENNSYLVANIA AND OHIO, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
MAY 22, 2019
Chairwoman Haaland, Ranking Member Young, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today and present the Department of the Interior’s views on H.R. 2525, a bill to establish the Steel Valley National Heritage Area in the States of Pennsylvania and Ohio, and for other purposes.
The Department recognizes that in the proposed Steel Valley National Heritage Area, in Mercer and Lawrence Counties in Pennsylvania, and Trumbull and Mahoning Counties in Ohio, certain aspects of the steel industry history on the landscape may still be seen and experienced by communities today. However, a feasibility study of the area has not yet been conducted, and, therefore, has not been reviewed by the National Park Service to determine if it meets criteria as a national heritage area. In addition, the Administration has proposed no funding assistance for national heritage areas in FY 2020 in order to focus resources on addressing the $11.9 billion deferred maintenance backlog and other critical park needs.
These areas in Pennsylvania and Ohio share a rich history in the steel industry. In the early 20th Century, the Mahoning Valley was the leading steel producer in Ohio. In western Pennsylvania, steel was central to the vitality of the region for decades. The proposed heritage area includes 28 historic steel mill sites. These mills built America’s cities, railroads, skyscrapers, and highways and provided economic opportunity for hardworking families. The steel industry remains an integral part of the area’s cultural and economic lifeblood. However, without a study, we are not able to assess whether the necessary conditions exist to form and implement a national heritage area that will be successful in preserving and interpreting the resources associated with the history and culture of the steel industry in this area.
Ms. Chairwoman, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to respond to any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.