Amache National Historic Site 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 H.R. 2497 AND S. 1284, BILLS TO ESTABLISH THE AMACHE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE IN THE STATE OF COLORADO AS A UNIT OF THE NATIONAL PARK 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 H.R. 2497 and S. 1284, bills to establish the Amache National Historic Site in the State of Colorado as a unit of the National Park System, and for other purposes.
The Department recognizes the important contribution to America’s story that is represented by the site known as Amache, where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II. Congress authorized the Amache Special Resource Study as part of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (P.L. 116-9), enacted on March 12, 2019. The NPS completed civic engagement in May 2021 and the public comment period for the Special Resource Study closed on June 30, 2021. The NPS is working closely with both internal and external subject matter experts to ensure the study captures the complexities and nuances of the history of Japanese American WWII incarceration. After reviewing all comments, the NPS will draft its assessment of whether the site meets the congressionally established criteria for inclusion in the National Park System, and the Department will transmit the study and recommendations to Congress.
H.R. 2497 and S. 1284 would establish the Amache National Historic Site as a unit of the National Park System when the Secretary of the Interior acquires sufficient land within the boundary of the site to constitute a manageable unit. The boundaries of the unit would be determined by a map that would be developed after enactment of the bill. The NPS would be required to develop a management plan for the site that does not interfere with existing use of existing facilities at the site. The bill would also allow for the establishment of administrative, visitor service, and curatorial facilities outside the boundaries of the site and for entering into agreements with other public and private entities to establish those facilities and for other purposes.
Originally known as the Granada Relocation Center, Amache was one of ten incarceration sites established by the War Relocation Authority during World War II to forcibly remove, illegally detain, and incarcerate U.S. citizens and legal residents of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast of the United States under the terms of Executive Order 9066. Amache was constructed on approximately 10,000 acres of land and held about 10,000 people of Japanese descent between 1942 and 1945. It is located approximately one mile from the Town of Granada in southeastern Colorado. Amache was designated by the Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark on February 10, 2006.
The site is currently owned by the Town of Granada and maintained by the Amache Preservation Society. At the site, visitors can observe a historic cemetery, a monument, concrete building foundations, a road network, and other elements of the historic landscape that remain intact. Recent efforts to preserve Amache have led to the restoration of the original water tower, the reconstruction of a guard tower and residential barracks, and the current rehabilitation of a historic recreation hall. The NPS has provided technical and financial assistance for preservation and interpretation of the site through the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program.
We appreciate the changes the House made to H.R. 2497 after the bill’s introduction. If the Committee decides to act on this legislation, we would like S.1284 to reflect the same amendments that were made to H.R. 2497.
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.