Chisholm National Historic Trail and Western National Historic Trail Designation Act
STATEMENT OF JOY BEASLEY, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR CULTURAL RESOURCES, PARTNERSHIPS AND SCIENCE, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, CONCERNING S. 1112, 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.
October 6, 2021
Chairman King, Ranking Member Daines, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior (Department) on S. 1112, a bill to amend the National Trails System Act to designate the Chisholm National Historic Trail and the Western National Historic Trail, and for other purposes.
The Department supports S. 1112 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.
S. 1112 would designate the Chisholm National Historic Trail and the Western National Historic Trail as part of the National Trails System. The bill would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to administer the trails located on Federal land as a single administrative unit, and to administer any portion of the trails located on non-Federal land only with the consent of the owner. In 2009, Congress directed the National Park Service (NPS) to conduct a national historic trail feasibility study of the trails 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. If designated, and subject to the availability of appropriations, the federal national trail administrator would develop a comprehensive plan for both trails to guide administration, management, and coordination among partners in accordance with the National Trails System Act. The national trail feasibility study recommends that the NPS serve as the federal national trail administrator.
If the Committee decides to act on this legislation, we would like to work with you on technical amendments to S. 1112.
Chairman King, Ranking Member Daines, 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.