Butterfield Overland National Historic Trail Designation Act
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL A. CALDWELL, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, PARK PLANNING, FACILITIES, AND LANDS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS CONCERNING S. 3519, A BILL TO AMEND THE NATIONAL TRAILS SYSTEM ACT TO DESIGNATE THE BUTTERFIELD OVERLAND NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
MAY 11, 2022
Chairman King, Ranking Member Daines, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior's views on S. 3519, a bill to amend the National Trails System Act to designate the Butterfield Overland National Historic Trail, and for other purposes.
The Department supports S. 3519.
S. 3519 would amend the National Trails System Act to designate the Butterfield Overland National Historic Trail.
In May 2018, the National Park Service transmitted the Butterfield Overland National Historic Trail Special Resource Study to Congress. The study was completed pursuant to section 7209 of Public Law 111-11, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the significance, feasibility, suitability, and desirability of designating the routes associated with the Butterfield Overland Trail as a national historic trail.
The Butterfield Overland Mail Company, also known as the Butterfield Stage, held a United States Mail contract to transport mail and passengers over the “ox-bow route” between the eastern termini of St. Louis, Missouri and Memphis, Tennessee, and the western terminus of San Francisco, California. The postal route and stagecoach service operated from 1858 to 1861. With the advent of the Civil War, this southern mail route was discontinued and moved farther north. The route served a critical need at that time, tying disparate parts of the country together and providing an overland route that ran entirely within the continent’s borders.
The study area included approximately 3,553 miles of trail routes in eight states: Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Given that 203 miles on the eastern end of the trail do not involve stage lines and approximately 58 miles of the routes are located in Mexico, a total of 3,292 miles were analyzed for this study.
The NPS conducted the study in accordance with the National Trails System Act (NTSA), and the routes were evaluated under the feasibility study provisions of the NTSA. In addition, to be eligible for designation as a national historic trail, the NTSA requires that a trail must be nationally significant, have a documented route through maps or journals, and offer significant potential for public recreational use.
The NPS study determined that all of the requirements of the NTSA were met. The Butterfield Overland Trail was found to be nationally significant, and feasible, suitable, and desirable for addition to the National Trails System as a national historic trail. The NPS considered four alternatives and selected Alternative 4: Designate a National Historic Trail but only with Nationally Significant Routes and Extensions, due to the level of public support and resource protection. Comments received during the study process were overwhelmingly supportive of national trail designation.
Chairman King, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.