Hearings and Business Meetings

SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 10:00 AM

Mr. Steve Martin

Deputy Director, National Park Service

STATEMENT OF STEPHEN P. MARTIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS OF THE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 584 AND H.R. 432, THE BETTY DICK RESIDENCE PROTECTION ACT.

 

JULY 28, 2005

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Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the Department of the Interior’s views on S. 584 and H.R. 432, bills that would require the Secretary of the Interior to permit continued occupancy and use of certain lands and improvements within Rocky Mountain National Park. 

 

The Department supports the general goal of S. 584 and H.R. 432 to allow the National Park Service (NPS) to resolve the merits of Mrs. Betty Dick’s desire to continue to live in the home inside Rocky Mountain National Park where she has lived for more than 25 years.  Currently, the NPS does not have clear statutory authority to address these unique situations.  In this testimony, we recommend certain amendments that will address both Mrs. Dick’s needs while recognizing the public’s purchase and ownership of this property. 

 

As drafted, the pending legislation will only address Mrs. Dick’s unique situation.  The Department also would be willing to work with the Committee to develop a broader solution, one that would provide NPS with clear statutory authority to address expiring reservations of use and occupancy in other situations with similar merit.  We look forward to working with the Committee on this issue. 

 

On April 14, 2005, the Department testified in opposition to H.R. 432 at a hearing before the House Subcommittee on National Parks.  However, since that time, the Department has recognized the need for a broader solution in light of the several hundred reservations of use and occupancy that will expire over the next 10 years.  Some of these existing reservations may present circumstances similar in merit to Mrs. Dick’s. 

 

S. 584 and H.R. 432 would allow the continued use and occupancy of land within Rocky Mountain National Park by Betty Dick for the remainder of her life.   The bills also state that the use and occupancy of the land would be governed by the conditions stated in the 1980 settlement agreement.  Under these conditions, Betty Dick would be required to make an annual payment of $300 to the Secretary of the Interior and she would be prohibited from constructing any new structures on the property.

 

We regret the difficult situations that sometimes arise from the expiration of private use and occupancy leases located within National Parks.  Mrs. Dick has been a model tenant in Rocky Mountain National Park.  The park has always enjoyed, and continues to enjoy, a congenial relationship with her, and she is a familiar summer resident of the Grand Lake community opening her home to park staff and residents of the community alike.  Park staff always feel welcome in Mrs. Dick’s home and have frequently stopped by to discuss this issue and other items of mutual interest relating to the park. 

 

The situation that is the subject of these bills is the result of a commitment made by Mr. Dick, Mrs. Dick’s late husband, to vacate the property that he sold to the NPS 25 years ago.  We understand and appreciate that this commitment has caused anxiety and stress for Mrs. Dick.

 

In 1977, the NPS purchased 66.5 acres from Marilyn Dick, the ex-wife of George Fredrick Dick for $214,000.  The title company that handled the transaction overlooked the fact that Mr. Dick had retained a right of first refusal to purchase the property if his ex-wife ever decided to sell.  Mr. Dick sued the NPS and his former wife in U.S. District Court.  In a legally binding Memorandum of Settlement Agreement, signed by the parties in 1980, the NPS retained ownership of the property and agreed to lease approximately 23 acres to Mr. Dick and his heirs for a period of 25 years for $7,500, which equates to $300 per year.  Mr. Dick died in 1992.  His second wife, Betty Dick, survives him and now occupies the premises during the summer months.  As the heir of Mr. Dick, Betty Dick had a leasehold interest in the property that expired July 16, 2005.

 

Mrs. Dick has contacted the NPS about extending her use and occupancy on a preferential basis for the remainder of her life.  The NPS lacks the authority to grant such an extension either through existing leasing authority or special use permit authority.  NPS does have the authority to issue leases competitively in most circumstances; issuing leases noncompetitively is limited to leases to units of government or non-profit organizations under certain circumstances.  NPS is also is required to charge rent at least equal to fair market value, and the rent payment is kept by the park. 

 

NPS cannot issue special use permits to extend use and occupancy for a life term under current authorities.  However, NPS does have authority under certain circumstances to issue a two-year special use permit, with the possibility of re-issuance as long as the justifying circumstances apply, that would allow an individual with an expired use and occupancy to remain on the premises.   Some of the criteria include situations in which NPS would be unable to remove the structure for a significant period of time (e.g., because of the need to complete planning requirement or the lack of available funds); the structure has or may have historical significance that would be endangered if vacated; or termination of residency would create undue hardship to the occupant (this provision requires the structure to be the primary residence of the individual).  Special use permits also may only be issued for rent equal to the fair market value rent for the property, and the rent would be deposited in the U.S. Treasury.  Under our current authority, we have offered Mrs. Dick such a special use permit that allows her to remain on her property for a period of time while NPS conducts a planning process to consider the options and determine an appropriate use for the property taking into account the interests of American taxpayers and park visitors, and park resources.

 

Mrs. Dick has verbally indicated that she will not accept the offer of a special use permit because it does not address her request for a life estate.  A written offer has been sent to her that asks for her reconsideration of the NPS offer.  While she has not yet responded to the request for reconsideration, she has accepted our offer to remain at her summer home for the remainder of this season as we await the outcome of the pending legislation.  In accepting this offer, Mrs. Dick has stated her appreciation to park staff for allowing her to continue her normal routine for this summer.

 

The Department would support S. 584 and H.R. 432, if amended in a way that balances the merits of Mrs. Dick’s situation with the public’s interest in this property, which was purchased and is owned for the benefit of the American people.  First, the Department would recommend that the bills be amended to reduce the acreage she occupies from 23 acres to approximately three to five acres that contain the house and outbuildings and her access to the Colorado River.  The balance of the property would then be available for park visitors, including access to the river.  This would require producing a new map, which we would be happy to provide to Mrs. Dick and to the public. 

 

In addition, we suggest that Mrs. Dick’s continued occupancy of the property should be subject to fair market value rent, based upon an appraisal of the property, with the rent being retained by the park. 

 

Finally, we suggest that the bill be amended to name Mrs. Dick as the sole beneficiary of the legislation, and that language be added to allow the termination of the lease in the event that Mrs. Dick is no longer able to use the property in the summer or is unable or unwilling to pay the annual fees.  We would be happy to work with the Subcommittee staff to develop these amendments.

 

Throughout the country, there are many instances where the NPS has purchased private inholdings and permitted former landowners to remain on the property for a period of time, usually 25 years, through a “Reservation of Use and Occupancy.”  The United States pays a reduced purchase price to account for the value of the retained use.  This acquisition tool saves taxpayer dollars and allows the former owner to continue to enjoy the property for a set period of time.  As we noted earlier, the Department also would like to work with the Committee to develop a broader solution – one that would provide the NPS with clear statutory authority to address the expiring reservations of use and occupancy in situations where there is merit.  We look forward to working with the Committee on this effort.

 

That concludes my remarks.  Mr. Chairman, I would be happy to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.

 

 

 

STATEMENT OF STEPHEN P. MARTIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 1154, A BILL TO EXTEND THE ACADIA NATIONAL PARK ADVISORY COMMISSION, TO PROVIDE IMPROVED VISITOR SERVICES AT THE PARK, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

 

July 28, 2005

 

 

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before your committee to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 1154, a bill to extend the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission, to provide improved visitor services at the park, and for other purposes. The Department supports enactment of this bill with two technical amendments.

 

If enacted, S.1154 would accomplish three objectives.  First, it would extend the life of the 16-member Acadia National Park Advisory Commission, which is set to expire in September 2006, for an additional 20 years.  Second, the bill would increase the park’s land acquisition ceiling from $9.1 million to $28 million.  Third, it would authorize Acadia National Park to participate in the planning, construction, and operation of an intermodal transportation center outside the park’s boundaries.

 

Acadia National Park Advisory Commission

The Acadia National Park Advisory Commission has been in operation for almost 20 years, and continues to be a valuable asset that enhances communication between park managers and local communities.  The Commission’s state and local representatives participate actively, and they strongly support its continuation.  The cost of administering the Commission is minimal and is covered by the park’s operating budget.

 

Increase in Land Acquisition Ceiling

Acadia National Park’s authorized land acquisition ceiling of $9.1 million has been reached, although there are over 100 tracts left to be acquired to complete the park as authorized by Congress in 1986.   Land prices on Mount Desert Island, where Acadia National Park is located, have increased dramatically since 1986 and may continue to do so if local home-inflation trends continue.  Many willing landowners are anxious to sell, but the park cannot buy the land because the land acquisition ceiling does not permit the use of sufficient appropriated funds, thus leaving valuable resources within the park threatened with incompatible development. 

 

The current law allowing Congress to exceed the ceiling by 10% or $1 million per year has resulted in an additional $8.9 million appropriated over the ceiling, for a total appropriation of $18 million for land acquisition at Acadia National Park to date.  However, because the current law is limited to $1 million per year, it does not adequately address situations where available tracts are valued higher than $1 million.  If these undeveloped tracts within the boundaries of the park are developed with new structures, acquisition costs will increase.  Acquiring these lands sooner rather than later is more cost-effective for the National Park Service in the long run.  In addition, the park currently faces encroachment issues, where private landowners use adjacent park lands for swing sets, hot tubs, sheds and the like.  The proposed $28 million ceiling would allow the National Park Service to acquire all parcels of land that are located within the boundary of the park that are currently available for sale. 

 

Incompatible development within park boundaries can degrade the natural and cultural values that are important to the visitors of Acadia National Park.  There are also “spillover” impacts from use of private lands that are surrounded by park land including noise and light impacts, which tend to drive the public away from these parts of the park.  Finally, larger blocks of land are more cost-effective to manage than smaller discontinuous parcels that are owned by multiple owners and thus, result in higher boundary monitoring and patrol costs.

 

Intermodal Transportation Center

The intermodal transportation center is the final piece of a three-phase transportation strategy that was developed with the assistance of an interagency team of transportation and park managers.  The interagency team was established pursuant to the 1997 Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of the Interior to comprehensively address public transportation in and around our national parks.  Language within S. 1154 authorizing Acadia National Park to participate in the planning, construction and operation of an intermodal transportation center outside park boundaries is essential for completion of a highly successful transportation system that operates through a consortium of twenty partners.  These partners include the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Maine Department of Transportation, and many local interests who developed this transportation strategy and have combined their resources to offer the Island Explorer, a bus system that uses clean propane-powered vehicles to move visitors around the Island.  The operational costs are paid for by a special transportation fee imposed at Acadia, state and local funds, and business contributions. 

 

Daily summer use of the Island Explorer has averaged 3,700 riders and more than 1.5 million riders have used the popular system since it began in 1999.  Traffic congestion on Mount Desert Island and the negative impacts of too many vehicles in Acadia National Park have been reduced, and the park’s air quality has improved annually. 

 

Currently, overnight visitors are picked up at their lodgings by the Island Explorer, but the increasing numbers of day use visitors do not have access to the transit system because it lacks a central parking and bus boarding area.  As planned, the project calls for developing an off-island intermodal transportation center to serve day users of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park.  The center is needed to maximize the benefits of the transit system and to fully achieve the project’s goals of reducing traffic congestion, preserving park resources and the visitor experience, and ensuring a vibrant tourist economy.

 

The proposed center would be strategically located on Route 3 (the only road to Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park) in Trenton, Maine.  A non-profit partner will acquire the land using donated funds.  The Maine Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration will have the lead in the planning and construction of the center, which will include parking for day users, a visitor orientation facility highlighting park and regional points of interest, a bus boarding area, and a bus maintenance garage. 

 

Most of the proposed facility would be built with funds provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation to the State of Maine.  The National Park Service would be responsible for the design, construction, and operation of all or part of the visitor orientation portion of the center, which would include exhibits, media presentations, and general information for park visitors bound for Acadia National Park.  The National Park Service might also contribute to maintenance and operation of the facility.  The proposed center would replace the park’s inadequate Thompson Island Information Center, which is too small to accommodate the large number of summer visitors to the park, contains out-of-date exhibits, and is not optimally located to intercept visitors.

 

We would recommend two technical amendments be made to section 4 of the bill.  First, we need to clarify that the Secretary would be authorized to conduct activities that facilitate the dissemination of information relating to the Island Explorer or any successor to the Island Explorer in case the transit system is renamed.  Second, in order to preserve flexibility in how resources are allocated, we would recommend that the word “may” be used instead of “shall”.

 

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to comment.  This concludes my prepared remarks and I will be happy to answer any questions you or other committee members might have.
Technical amendments to S. 1154, the Acadia National Park Improvement Act of 2005

On p. 2, line 9, strike “shall” and insert “may”.

 

On p. 2, line 26, strike “system;” and insert “system or any successor transit system;”.

 

 

STATEMENT OF STEPHEN P. MARTIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE  SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES CONCERNING S. 1166, A BILL TO EXTEND THE AUTHORIZATION OF KALAUPAPA NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK ADVISORY COMMISSION

 

July 28, 2005

 

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s views on S. 1166, a bill to extend the authorization of the Kalaupapa National Historical Park Advisory Commission.  The advisory commission is due to expire on December 22, 2005; this bill would extend the commission another twenty years, until December 22, 2025.

 

The Department supports this legislation with amendments described later in this statement.  Extending the duration of the Kalaupapa National Historical Park Advisory Commission for another 20 years would enable a panel of knowledgeable and dedicated individuals to provide guidance during the coming years when the park will be anticipating the change from a patient community to a more traditional national park unit.

 

Kalaupapa National Historical Park was established in 1980 by Public Law 96-565 to preserve and interpret the settlement on the Kalaupapa Peninsula on the island of Molokai, and to provide a well-maintained residential community for the patients with Hansen’s disease (leprosy).  The enabling legislation gave primary consideration to the rights and needs of the resident patients so long as they remained there. However, the legislation also anticipated the day when there would no longer be a resident patient community at Kalapaupa by providing for a reevaluation of the policies governing the management, administration, and public use of the park once that occurs.

 

With a patient population of fewer than 40, it is likely that sometime before 2025, there will no longer be a resident patient community at Kalaupapa.  At that time, the reevaluation of policies governing the park will be undertaken, as required by the law establishing the park.  An advisory commission in operation until 2025 could offer important guidance to the National Park Service, as it seeks to provide for the settlement’s last remaining patients and transition the park from a site that is primarily a patient community to one that is more broadly available for public uses. 

 

While we believe it is critically important to have the involvement of the patient community on the advisory board for as long as possible, we believe that an extension of the advisory commission for 20 years, by necessity, needs to be accompanied by a change in the allowable composition of the commission.  Section 108(a) of P.L. 96-565 provides for the Secretary of the Interior to appoint seven members to the 11-member advisory commission who are present or former patients, elected by the patient community.  We recommend amending this section to provide for the Secretary to appoint seven members who are knowledgeable about Kalapaupa’s history and have a strong interest in the preservation of the settlement’s history, if patients are unable to serve on the commission.  We support retaining the requirement currently in law that the other four members be appointed from recommendations submitted by the Governor of Hawaii.

 

For similar reasons, we also recommend amending Section 108(d) of P.L. 96-565.  This section requires the Secretary to consult with the commission on a training program for the patients, among other matters, and provides for public visitation levels to be determined by the commission on the basis of a patient referendum.  For the next phase of decision-making, we believe it would be more appropriate to amend Section 108(d) to specify that the commission should recommend to the Secretary the long-term strategic planning, education, and outreach efforts that should be undertaken by the National Park Service for the park and should advise the Secretary about appropriate visitation levels for the park. 

 

We would be pleased to work with the subcommittee on language for amendments to Sections 108(a) and 108(d).

 

In the 25 years since Congress passed the enabling legislation for Kalaupapa National Historical Park, the National Park Service has built a strong relationship with many of the residents and the State of Hawaii.  We have learned a lot – about Hansen’s disease, inequality, renewal and hope – through our relationship with these individuals and their families. We want those who have helped us understand the history of what happened at Kalaupapa to be involved in framing the story for the future.  Providing for the advisory commission for the park to remain in existence for another 20 years will help ensure that this goal is achieved.

 

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony.  I will be happy to answer questions you or the other members of the subcommittee may have.

 

 

STATEMENT OF STEPHEN P. MARTIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, CONCERNING S. 1346, THE MICHIGAN LIGHTHOUSE AND MARITIME HERITAGE ACT

 

July 28, 2005

 

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S.1346, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study of the maritime heritage sites in the state of Michigan.

 

The Department does not support S. 1346.  While Michigan is rich in historic treasures linked to its Great Lakes’ heritage and the coastlines of the state are home to important resources such as wetlands, dunes, and threatened and endangered species and plants, we believe the best of these cultural and natural resources are already being conserved and interpreted for the enjoyment of the public.  

 

 

S. 1346 would authorize a study to determine the potential economic and tourism benefits of preserving, protecting, and interpreting the State’s maritime resources.  It would recommend management alternatives for the most effective long-term protection and interpretation of the resources.  The study also would address ways to link communities, waterways, monuments, parkways, national and state parks, and state historic sites on the national, regional, state and local levels into a Michigan Maritime Heritage Destination Network.  S. 1346 would require a report to be submitted to Congress not later than 18 months after funds are made available that describes the results of the study.  The bill would authorize funding of $500,000 for the study. 

 

 

All four National Park Service (NPS) units in Michigan, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Keweenaw National Historical Park, Isle Royale National Park, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore already preserve and interpret historic maritime resources identified in the provisions of S. 1346.  These parks contain historic maritime landscapes of a size and quality unique on the Great Lakes and rare elsewhere on the United States coastlines.  The maritime heritage resources at all four NPS sites are interpreted and presented to the public in a variety of ways.  Symbols of the maritime history of Lake Superior are preserved at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore at three former Coast Guard stations and the Au Sable Light Station, which is perhaps the finest example on the Great Lakes of late 1800’s vintage masonry lighthouses.  At Keweenaw National Historical Park, the majority of cultural resources are related to copper mining.  Some of the success of that industry was attributed to the waterways of Lake Superior and the role that copper played in building ships and boats to this day.  Thus, this site adds another dimension to the maritime heritage of the area.

 

Copper mining on the island of Isle Royale and the growth of Lake Superior shipping led to the establishment of four lighthouses around Isle Royale National Park.  These lighthouses, three of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and numerous shipwrecks of both national and state significance scattered throughout Isle Royale National Park give clear indication of the traffic and danger the waters of Lake Superior posed to sailing vessels throughout history.  The area was a base for a thriving commercial fishing industry from the 1830’s until the park’s establishment in 1931. 

 

The maritime resources at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore include an 1858 lighthouse, three original Life-Saving Service /Coast Guard stations, eight historic rescue boats, and hundreds of museum artifacts.  Cultural landscapes highlight the maritime and agricultural resources of the area.  The waters of Lake Michigan have played a key role in the settlement of the state. 

 

There are indoor and outside exhibits, walking tours, living history, boat tours and audio-visual programs at these park sites.  Scores of school groups make trips to these sites where history comes alive to enhance their social science studies.  During the summers, national park rangers, Volunteers-in Park (VIPs), and various park partners staff museums, visitor centers, and historic structures to provide the general public with enthusiasm and knowledge of the maritime heritage resources.

 

The state of Michigan also has made great efforts to preserve and protect important cultural and natural resources.  Michigan has listed over one thousand sites on the National Register of Historic Places, which includes state parks, historic houses, commercial and residential areas, farm and factory complexes, cemeteries, monuments, as well as ships and shipwreck sites. The state has developed a database that includes the stories and details of wrecks and rescues of 1,500 shipwrecks as well as information on the 11 underwater preserves and other important historical facts.  There are 120 lighthouses along the coastline, the oldest ones being over 180 years old.  And Michigan established the first fresh water marine sanctuary in the Great Lakes area, the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve, to maintain stewardship over and interpret a large collection of shipwrecks. There are numerous museums, hotels, historic ships and boats, locks and ports, and underwater preserves related to the maritime industry. 

 

The Great Lakes are a critical part of Michigan’s economy and quality of life.  Millions of people use the Great Lakes each year to enjoy beaches, good fishing and boating.  Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Keweenaw National Historical Park, Isle Royale National Park, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will continue to ensure that outstanding natural and cultural resources will be protected for generations to come.

 

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared testimony.  I would be pleased to answer any questions you or the committee may have.

 

 

STATEMENT OF STEPHEN P. MARTIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 652, TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR THE REHABILITATION OF THE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN NATIONAL MEMORIAL IN PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

 

July 28, 2005

 

 

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before your committee to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 652, a bill to provide financial assistance for the rehabilitation of the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the development of an exhibit to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin.  The Department does not support this bill.

 

This bill would authorize financial assistance in the form of a grant to the Franklin Institute to rehabilitate the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, and to develop an interpretive exhibit relating to Benjamin Franklin to be displayed at a museum adjacent to the memorial.  An amount not to exceed $10,000,000 would be authorized to be appropriated for these purposes, with the Franklin Institute required to provide matching funds.

 

For many years, the Department has opposed legislation authorizing appropriations for non-National Park Service construction projects.  Many of these projects, like the rehabilitation of the Ben Franklin National Memorial, represent an important contribution to the preservation of our Nation’s history.  However, each time such legislation is enacted and appropriations follow, it further reduces a limited amount of discretionary funds available to address the priority needs of our national parks and other programs administered by the National Park Service.  With the emphasis we have placed on the President’s initiative to reduce the deferred maintenance backlog, it has become more important than ever to avoid authorizing funding for non-National Park Service projects that would likely draw funds from the National Park Service’s budget.  We are committed to supporting initiatives to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin and the interpretation of his legacy, especially at Franklin Court, a unit of Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, but given the current demands on National Park Service funds, we cannot support this legislation.

 

The Benjamin Franklin National Memorial is an affiliated area of the National Park System that is owned and administered by the Franklin Institute.  The Memorial includes a colossal seated marble statue of Franklin carved by sculptor James Earle Fraser, which stands in the Rotunda of the Franklin Institute’s main building at 20th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia.  The statue and surrounding Memorial Hall was designated as the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial on October 25, 1972 (P.L. 92-551) and made no provision for appropriated funds to be used for acquisition, development, operation or maintenance of this Memorial.  The House committee report on P.L. 92-551 anticipated that the Franklin Institute would continue to operate and maintain the Memorial at no cost to the government.

 

A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) entered into on November 6, 1973, falls under the administrative authority of Independence National Historical Park.  The MOA outlines the major responsibilities of each party regarding the operations of the national memorial.  The Franklin Institute agreed to preserve the memorial in perpetuity, that no substantial alterations or repairs be taken without Secretarial approval, that the public shall be admitted without charge to the memorial, and that there will be equal employment opportunities.  In turn, the Secretary agreed to include the memorial in publications, to make appropriate references to it in the interpretive and information programs of Independence National Historical Park, and to cooperate with the Institute in all appropriate and mutually agreeable ways on behalf of the memorial.

 

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to comment.  This concludes my prepared remarks, and I will be happy to answer any questions you or other committee members might have.

 

STATEMENT OF STEPHEN P. MARTIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 958, TO AMEND THE NATIONAL TRAILS SYSTEM ACT TO DESIGNATE THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER TRAIL IN THE STATES OF MARYLAND AND VIRGINIA AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AS A NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL.

 

July 28, 2005

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Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the Department of the Interior’s views on S. 958, a bill to amend the National Trails System Act to designate the Star-Spangled Banner Trail as a National Historic Trail.

 

The Department supports S. 958, which would designate an approximately 290-mile land and water trail extending from southern Maryland through the District of Columbia and Virginia along the Chesapeake Bay.  The land routes would follow existing public roads, along which British and American troops traveled.  The bill would require the Secretary to encourage public participation and consult with landowners, Federal, State, and local agencies on the administration of the trail.  The bill would prohibit land or interest in land outside the exterior boundaries of any federally administered area from being acquired for the trail without the consent of the owner. 

 

The proposed National Historic Trail would commemorate the events leading up to the writing of  “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the Chesapeake Campaign of the War of 1812.  These events include the British invasion of Maryland, the Battle of Bladensburg, the burning of the White House and the Capitol, the burning of the Washington Navy Yard, and the Battle for Baltimore in the summer of 1814.  The route of the invasion is known and documented, and the proposed trail would follow it as closely as practical. 

 

The War of 1812 and the Chesapeake Campaign of 1814 had long-lasting and far-reaching effects on the United States and American culture.  It represented the first major test of our infant democracy, contributed to the formation of a national identity, and demonstrated the importance of a strong military and the need for coastal defenses.  During the campaign, other events occurred that are significant to our nation’s heritage, particularly the writing of the poem commemorating a key battle -- the Battle for Baltimore.  Francis Scott Key’s poem, the words of which comprise our National Anthem, celebrated the resiliency of the young nation and the flag he described as “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the successful defense of Fort McHenry.  The events provide important testimony, too, about the roles of the enslaved and civilians in the early defense of the nation.

 

Should S. 958 be enacted, the National Park Service, subject to availability of funds, would prepare a comprehensive management plan with widespread public participation to identify the goals and objectives for trail preservation, research, interpretation, public use, trail marking, and cooperative management.  The bill recognizes the advantages offered by the regional nature of the trail and the many organizations interested in and associated with the history of the Chesapeake Campaign.  Several key trail-related resources, such as Fort McHenry and the White House, are owned by the Federal government.  We anticipate that other trail-related resources such as structures within Old Town Alexandria in Virginia or Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in Maryland will primarily remain in local or private ownership. 

 

In 1999, the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail Study Act (Public Law 106-135) was enacted authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to study the potential route of a Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail.  The history, background, integrity, and national significance of the trail were researched and analyzed.  The criteria for national trails, set forth in the National Trails Systems Act, were applied, and five of the eight trail study segments were found to meet the necessary criteria.  The proposed 290-mile trail would only include these five segments.

Providing conservation and enjoyment of, public access to, and interpretation of the historic route and its resources has been a growing focus of both public and private initiatives in recent years as the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 approaches.  In Maryland, a grassroots initiative was undertaken to raise public awareness of the important events that occurred in the Chesapeake region in the summer of 1814 during the War of 1812.  Historians and regional groups recognized the untold stories and legacy of the events of the Chesapeake Campaign and the need for protection and interpretation of related historical resources.  

 

The proposed trail represents an opportunity for an effective partnership among Federal, State, and local governments, a dedicated trail organization, and the many public and private site managers to administer and maintain a federally designated commemorative trail along the historic routes of the Chesapeake Campaign.  Because of its emphasis on partnerships, this approach provides the greatest flexibility for resource protection while creating a framework for interpretation and visitor experience.

 

Mr. Chairman, that concludes my remarks and I would be happy to respond to any questions that you and the committee may have.