National Historic Vehicle Register Act of 2017
STATEMENT OF P. DANIEL SMITH, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, EXERCISING THE AUTHORITY OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, CONCERNING S. 966, A BILL TO ESTABLISH A PROGRAM TO ACCURATELY DOCUMENT VEHICLES THAT WERE SIGNIFICANT IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
February 14, 2018
Chairman Daines, Ranking Member King, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s views on S. 966, a bill to establish a program to accurately document vehicles that are significant in the history of the United States, and for other purposes.
The Department opposes S. 966 because it would create an unnecessary new program that would place new financial obligations on the National Park Service (NPS) at a time when efforts to focus resources on addressing the NPS maintenance backlog are a top priority.
S. 966 would require the NPS to establish and maintain a register of historic vehicles which would include several specific types of information for each vehicle. It would require the NPS to coordinate with two historic vehicle organizations to invite owners of historic vehicles to participate in the register and to develop criteria for the inclusion of vehicles on the register. The bill would require the register to be archived in the Library of Congress.
The NPS already has a program that documents the country’s historically significant vehicles. The Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) has recognized and documented 21 automobiles that are historically and culturally important in our collective national history even though a separate registry for national historic vehicles does not exist. We note that HAER has also documented numerous ships and boats without establishing a separate program for vessels.
HAER is part of the NPS’s Heritage Documentation Programs (HDP). Documentation produced through these programs constitutes the nation's largest archive of historic architectural, engineering, and landscape documentation. These records, including photographs, measured drawings, and written historical reports, are maintained in a special collection at the Library of Congress and are available to the public, copyright-free, both at the Library and through the Library’s website. It is the most heavily used collection at the Library of Congress’ Division of Prints and Photographs.
HDP conducts this nationwide documentation program in partnership with state and local governments, private industry, professional societies, universities, preservation groups, and other Federal agencies. It has and will continue to partner with the Historic Vehicle Association to preserve records of unique examples of our nation’s automotive story. The collection is unique in the strong support it enjoys from its institutional sponsors and the public, and is distinguished in its national scope, consistent format, archival stability, and continued growth.
S. 966 also raises issues of capacity and workload. Unlike the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), the proposed National Historic Vehicle Register would not be supported by the system of Federal Preservation Officers, State Historic Preservation Offices, and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, to review applications for the NRHP. Without that broad system of support, this new program would present a significant increase in the workload for the NPS.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.