John P. Parker House Study Act
STATEMENT OF KYM A. HALL, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION, 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. 6799, THE JOHN P. PARKER HOUSE STUDY ACT.
JULY 14, 2022
Chair Neguse, Ranking Member Fulcher, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s views on H.R. 6799, the John P. Parker House Study Act.
The Department supports H.R. 6799 with an amendment. We would like to note that there are currently 21 previously authorized studies for potential units of the National Park System, potential new National Heritage Areas, and potential additions to the National Trails System that have not yet been transmitted to Congress.
H.R. 6799 would direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study for the John P. Parker House to determine the suitability and feasibility of establishing the site as a unit of the National Park System. The site is the restored home of the abolitionist and entrepreneur that is currently owned and managed as a museum by the John P. Parker Historical Society.
As a conductor on the Underground Railroad at the height of the abolitionist movement, John P. Parker (1827-1900) helped runaway slaves from the South escape to freedom across the Ohio River. A freed slave himself, Parker was also a renowned African American entrepreneur and one of the first African Americans to receive patents for his inventions. During the Civil War, he made iron castings in his foundry for the Union, and he recruited soldiers for the two Ohio Civil War regiments of the United States Colored Troops. Parker worked with abolitionist John Rankin, and together they supported a robust abolitionist movement on the Ohio River. The house he lived in was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and designated a national historic landmark in 1997 for its connection to the abolitionist movement.
A reconnaissance survey completed in 2020, examined the national significance, suitability, feasibility, and level of National Park Service (NPS) management required. It determined that further evaluation through a congressionally authorized special resource study is warranted. The special resource study will further evaluate the site for inclusion in the National Park System; invite public involvement in the study process; and develop potential management alternatives for the John P. Parker House.
The Department recommends amending the bill to require the study to be submitted to Congress within three years of funding being made available, which is the standard timeframe for bills authorizing special resource studies. As introduced, the bill provides for the study to be submitted within 18 months after funding is made available.
Chair Neguse, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.