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Legislation & Public Policy Issues in Preservation     


Legislation & Public Policy Issues in Preservation
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Senate Subcommittee Hears Testimony on Japanese Internment Camp Study and Civil War Sesquicentennial Bills
Historic Preservation Blog from PreservationDirectory.com - Senate Subcommittee Testimony, Japanese Internment Camp Study, Civil War Sesquicentennial Bills, National Park Service
Contributed By: The National Trust for Historic Preservation's Department of Public Policy
Email The Author: pr@nthp.org
Website: http://www.nthp.org

The Senate Subcommittee National Parks held a hearing on a number of bills on December 3rd including S. 1838, a bill to establish a commission to direct the commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, as well as S. 2722, which would authorize a special resource study of the Japanese internment camp sites located near Heart Mountain, Wyoming for inclusion as a unit of the National Park System.

Kate Stevenson, Assistant Business Director of the National Park Service (NPS), testified that her agency supports the Heart Mountain study bill but believes “that priority should be given to the 49 previously-authorized studies for potential units of the National Park System, potential new National Heritage Areas, and potential additions to the National Trails System and the National Wild and Scenic River System that have not yet been transmitted to Congress.”

Located in northwest Wyoming, in the Shoshone River Valley, the Heart Mountain Relocation Center is one of 10 relocation centers established by the U.S. military to incarcerate Japanese Americans during World War II. The Center opened on August 11, 1942, and operated for 39 months, closing on November 10, 1945. At its peak, Heart Mountain contained 10,767 Japanese Americans, nearly all of whom were former residents of California, Oregon, and Washington, and two-thirds of whom were United States citizens. The site tells the story of a group of American citizens whose constitutional rights were abrogated during a time when our nation was at war. Heart Mountain is also directly associated with one of the largest single draft resistance movements in United States history.

Introduced by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), the Civil War Sesquicentennial bill (S. 1838) on October 22nd would create a 27-member commission - including one individual with expertise in historic preservation - that would plan, develop and carry out programs to commemorate the sesquicentennial celebration of the Civil War. The bill also authorizes $3.5 million in National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grants to carry out appropriate activities and programs related to the sesquicentennial.NPS Business Director Stevenson stated in her testimony that NPS alsosupports S. 1838 but would like to see three changes adopted to strengthenthe bill, including:
  1. Acknowledging scholarly centers and programs that the social,political, and economic aspects of the Civil War to ensure that theyreceive proper emphasis in any commemoration events.
  2. Respecting the importance of the appointments to this nationallyimportant commission, NPS recommends that the bill allow for 180days instead of 60 days for the selection of the commissionmembers.
  3. The bill currently envisions a commission that would includetwenty-seven members which NPS believes is too large and wouldsignificantly impede the timely selection of its members, diminishits ability to work efficiently and effectively, and would be toocostly. NPS would prefer to see a smaller commission, with perhapsfifteen or seventeen members at the most.

Reprinted by permission of the Public Policy Department of the National Trust


Keywords: Senate Subcommittee Testimony, Japanese Internment Camp Study, Civil War Sesquicentennial Bills, National Park Service

Posted: December 4, 2009
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Unless noted, the thoughts and opinions expressed in the article are solely that of the
author and not necessarily the opinion of the editors of PreservationDirectory.com.
   



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