Today, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains more than 50 separate public lands provisions. This authorization marks the first National Parks legislation passed by Congress in five years and is expected to be signed into law by President Obama.
“Today’s Congressional action underscores the value of preserving our nation’s most beloved historic places, and is a significant victory on many fronts,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “While we commend those members of Congress whose leadership resulted in protecting several noteworthy national treasures, we must also acknowledge that portions of the bill will gravely harm both the religious practices and cultural heritage of Native American tribes and the lands they consider sacred.”
Included in the bill are two projects that are part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Treasures program: The Manhattan Project, located in three different states, and Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, N.J. National Treasures are some of the most important, critically threatened places in the nation where the National Trust for Historic Preservation is making a deep investment.
The Manhattan Project was named a National Treasure in 2011 and includes sites in three different states - Los Alamos, NM; Oak Ridge, Tenn.; and Hanford, Wash. These sites were top secret locations where the atom bomb was developed, ultimately ending World War II and launching the Cold War era. The Manhattan Project National Historical Park is one of only a few national parks that recognize American science and technology.
“Few events have affected as many aspects of American life as deeply as the Manhattan Project,” said Meeks. “The creation of the Manhattan National Historical Park provides an important opportunity for the public to explore the many ethical, cultural and scientific implications that defined this complex period in our nation’s history.”
The bill also included a provision adding Hinchliffe Stadium to the Great Falls National Historical Park area in Paterson, NJ. Named a National Treasure in 2010, Hinchliffe Stadium is the only National Historic Landmark in baseball and one of the few remaining sports venues associated with Negro League Baseball.
“Hinchliffe Stadium represents an irreplaceable piece of our nation’s history,” said Meeks. “Some of our nation’s greatest athletes took to the field there and courageously led the movement to integrate professional sports -- and our country as a whole. Inclusion of the stadium within the broader Great Falls National Historical Park system is an important milestone towards the preservation and reuse of this extraordinary sports venue.”
In addition to the inclusion of Manhattan Project National Historical Park and Hinchliffe Stadium, the National Trust has also been in support of several other public lands provisions included in the NDAA:
One harmful provision would transfer lands from the Tonto National Forest into private ownership to be used for mining purposes. The bill would circumvent a myriad of federal laws meant to protect public lands and their resources including the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the Native American Graves Protection and several other federal laws enacted by Congress to help protect the traditional and cultural practices of Indian tribes.
- Expansion of American Battlefield Protection Program to include Revolutionary War and War of 1812 sites –Nationwide
- Establishment of the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park – Auburn, NY
- Protection of the Pagat cultural area on Guam through establishment of the Surface Danger Zone, Ritidian Unit, Guam National Wildlife Refuge
- Expansion of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum National Historic Site – New York, NY
For more information about the National Trust for Historic Preservation, visit www.preservationnation.org.
Originally posted at http://www.preservationnation.org/who-we-are/press-center/press-releases/2014/us-congress-helps-secure.html#.VJCNj758vww
Posted: December 12, 2014
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