S. 1438

Gateway Arch National Park Designation Act

STATEMENT OF ROBERT VOGEL, ACTING DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, CONCERNING S. 1438, TO REDESIGNATE JEFFERSON NATIONAL EXPANSION MEMORIAL IN THE STATE OF MISSOURI AS GATEWAY ARCH NATIONAL PARK. 

July 19, 2017

Chairman Daines, Ranking Member Hirono, and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s views on S. 1438, a bill to redesignate the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in the State of Missouri as the “Gateway Arch National Park.”

The Department of the Interior supports renaming the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial to highlight its iconic feature, the Gateway Arch.  However, we recommend designating the site as a national monument, to be known as “Gateway Arch National Monument,” rather than a national park, in order to be more consistent with National Park Service naming conventions. 

The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, located in St. Louis, Missouri, near the starting point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, was designated as a national memorial by Executive Order 7523, on December 21, 1935.  The 91-acre park was established to commemorate the Louisiana Purchase, and the subsequent westward movement of American explorers and pioneers.  This site played an important part in our nation’s debate over slavery, as the Dred Scott case was heard in the Old Courthouse, now included in the memorial’s boundaries.  The Gateway Arch, designed by world-famous Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen in 1947, and completed in 1965, is the world-recognized symbol of St. Louis, much as the Statue of Liberty National Monument serves that purpose for New York City.  The name Jefferson National Expansion Memorial does not readily identify where the memorial is located or the fact that the key feature of the park is the Gateway Arch.  Using “Gateway Arch” in the name of the site would make the name immediately recognizable to all citizens and future visitors to St. Louis.

The proposal to rename Jefferson National Expansion Memorial as Gateway Arch National Park is supported by the partners in the City Arch River 2015 alliance, a public- private partnership founded in 2009 to support and coordinate the project to connect, invigorate and expand the arch grounds.  The partners that make up the alliance are Jefferson National Parks Association, Bi-state Development, Great Rivers Greenway, Gateway Arch Park Foundation, and the City of St. Louis.  After a year of extensive research and public scoping, one of the partners, the CityArchRiver Foundation, changed its name to Gateway Arch Park Foundation, a reflection of how immediately identifiable the name “Gateway Arch” is for the site.  

Although we would welcome using the term “Gateway Arch” in the name of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the National Park Service strives to provide consistency in the naming of park units.  To better align with the standard nomenclature for units of the National Park System, we recommend that Congress redesignate the unit as “Gateway Arch National Monument.”  National parks contain a variety of resources and encompass large land or water areas to help provide adequate protection of the resources.  The existing 59 designated national parks protect at a minimum thousands of acres each, and some span millions of acres.  At only 91 federal acres, we believe that the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is too small and limited in the range of resources the site protects and interprets to be called a national park.  Since it is a site similar to the Statue of Liberty National Monument, in its iconic status and small land area, we believe that a more fitting name for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial would be “Gateway Arch National Monument.”

Chairman Daines, this concludes my statement.  I would be pleased to answer questions you or other members of the subcommittee may have.