S. 3685

John P. Parker House Study 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. 3685, A BILL TO DIRECT THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO CONDUCT A SPECIAL RESOUCES STUDY TO DETERMINE THE SUITABILITY AND FEASIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING THE JOHN P. PARKER HOUSE IN RIPLEY, OHIO AS A UNIT OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM.

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. 3685, the John P. Parker House Study Act. 

The Department supports S. 3685. We would like to note that there are currently 23 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. 

S. 3685 would direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study to determine the suitability and feasibility of establishing the John P. Parker House in Ripley, Ohio, as a unit of the National Park System.

The John P. Parker House and Museum, currently owned and managed by the John P. Parker Historical Society, is the restored home of abolitionist and entrepreneur John P. Parker (1827-1900). As a conductor on the Underground Railroad at the height of the abolitionist movement, John P. Parker 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 site 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 and Museum.

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

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