H.R. 4612

Wright Brothers-Dunbar National Historic Park Designation Act 

STATEMENT OF CHRISTOPHER K. JARVI, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR PARTNERSHIPS, INTERPRETATION AND EDUCATION, VOLUNTEERS, AND OUTDOOR RECREATION, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, HOUSE RESOURCES COMMITTEE, CONCERNING H.R. 4612, A BILL TO REDESIGNATE DAYTON AVIATION HERITAGE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK IN THE STATE OF OHIO AS “WRIGHT BROTHERS-DUNBAR NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK” 

April 27, 2006

Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the Department of the Interior’s views on H.R. 4612.  The bill would redesignate Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park in the state of Ohio as the “Wright Brothers-Dunbar National Historical Park.”  The Administration supports the provisions in H.R. 4612 related to the name change, which are consistent with an Administration legislative proposal transmitted to Congress on September 16, 2005, but opposes the grant assistance provision and recommends its deletion. 

During the process associated with amending the park’s General Management Plan in 2002, the public proposed the idea of changing the name of the park to better recognize the individuals the park commemorates.  The Dayton Aviation Heritage Commission (Commission), established for the purpose of assisting with preserving and managing the historic resources associated with the Wright brothers, aviation, and Paul Laurence Dunbar, took the lead and solicited input from a cross section of community groups and individuals regarding the proposal to change the name.   After reviewing all the comments and suggestions, the Commission submitted its recommendation to the National Park Service (NPS) to change the name of the park to “Wright Brothers-Dunbar National Historical Park.” 

The NPS endorses the proposed name for several important reasons:  (1) It is the result of a community led public process; (2) It would clearly and distinctly connect the name and primary purpose of the park, which is to commemorate the accomplishments of the Wright brothers and Paul Laurence Dunbar; (3) It would establish a clear connection to a basic marketing philosophy that advocates a clear, simple, and direct message to the universally recognized Wright brothers’ brand; (4) It would provide a better distinction between the park unit and the National Aviation Heritage Area, which extends around and beyond the park, as currently both include the word “Heritage” in their titles; and (5) It would commemorate individuals, a naming convention used by the NPS since 1916 for 50 other national historical parks, national historic sites, national monuments, and national memorials. 

While Congress has defined a relatively broad mandate and mission for the park, we believe that its core purpose is to commemorate three individuals, Wilbur and Orville Wright and Paul Laurence Dunbar.  This mission would more accurately and succinctly be reflected by the proposed name, the “Wright Brothers-Dunbar National Historical Park.” 

H.R. 4612 also would authorize the Secretary to make grants to public and private organizations relating to the preservation, development, use, and interpretation of properties within the boundaries of the park, subject to the availability of appropriations.   Implementation of partnerships with Federal, state, and local governments and the private sector associated with the Wright brothers, the invention and development of aviation, or the life and works of Paul Laurence Dunbar often requires the transfer of funding from the NPS to partner organizations.  

The NPS is able to transfer funds, including appropriations intended for partner organizations, through the use of cooperative agreements for most activities when there is substantial involvement between parties.  The NPS is not authorized, however, to spend funds for construction and development projects on non-federal property within the park boundary where there is not substantial involvement by the NPS.  The Administration opposes the grant authority language in H.R. 4612, because it is too broad in allowing limited the NPS funds to be diverted from park services and facilities, which are solely the responsibility of the NPS, and toward non-park facilities, which are responsibilities of the partner organizations.  Many partnership activities can readily be addressed by cooperative agreements, so this language would only be needed to facilitate earmarks that pass through NPS funds for construction projects on non-park facilities.  Therefore, we recommend deleting this section, which was not in the Administration’s proposal. 

The Department recommends a few technical amendments to H.R. 4612 by striking the word “Historic” and inserting the word “Historical” every place it is used to reflect the correct name of the park.  We also recommend amending Title V of Division J of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005 (16 U.S.C. 1132 note; Public Law 108-447), which created the National Aviation Heritage Area, to correct several section references and to strike the reference to the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum, Wapakoneta, Ohio, included in Auglaize County.  The reference to the museum is no longer needed since the entire county and its historic resources were included in the revised boundary of the heritage area.   

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.

Proposed Technical Amendments 

On pg. 1, line 5, strike “Historic” and insert “Historical”. 

On pg. 1, line 9, strike “Historic” and insert “Historical”. 

On pg. 2, after line 22 add the following: 

SEC. 3.  NATIONAL AVIATION HERITAGE AREA.

            “Title V of Division J of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005 (16 U.S.C. 1132 note; Public Law 108-447), is amended—

                        “(1) in Sec. 503(3), by striking “104” and inserting “504”;

“(2) in Sec. 503(4), by striking “106” and inserting “506”;

“(3) in Sec. 504, by striking subsection (b)(2) and by redesignating subsection (b)(3) as subsection (b)(2); and

“(4) in Sec. 505(b)(1), by striking “106” and inserting “506”.” 

Amend the title to read:

“To redesignate Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park in the State of Ohio as “Wright Brothers-Dunbar National Historical Park,” and for other purposes.”

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