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Bill Wants National Park Service To Study More Than A Dozen Sites For Inclusion In Park System


More than a dozen sites around the country should be considered for inclusion in the National Park System, according to legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill, which has been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee, touches on a wide array of landscapes, from "the prehistoric, historic, and limestone forest sites on the island of Rota in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands" to "Galveston Bay in the State of Texas."

H.R.3131, the National Park Service Study Act of 2013, was introduced by U.S. Reps. Gregorio Sablan, who represents the Northern Mariana Islands; Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii; Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii; Ben Ray Lujan, D-New Mexico; Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam; John Dingell, D-Michigan; Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona; Eleanor Norton, D-District of Columbia; David Scott, D-Georgia; John Conyers, D-Michigan; Jackie Speier, D-California; John Lewis, D-Georgia; Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas; Mike Honda, D-California, and; Rush Holt, D-New Jersey.

Sites the legislation wants to be studied for possible inclusion in the park system are:

* the Kau coast, on the island of Hawaii;

* the prehistoric, historic, and limestone forest sites on the island of Rota in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands;

* sites in the State of Alaska associated with the forced abandonment of the Aleut villages of Makushin, Kashega, and Biorka around Unalaska Island, and Attu on Attu Island during World War II, and the 5 relocation sites at Funter Bay, Burnett Inlet, Killisnoo, Ward Lake, and the Wrangell Institute;

* World War II Japanese American Relocation Center sites including Gila River and Poston sites, State of Arizona; Granada, State of Colorado; Heart Mountain, State of Wyoming; Jerome and Rohwer sites, State of Arkansas; and Topaz, State of Utah;

* Mahaulepu, on the island of Kauai, State of Hawaii;

* the town of Goldfield and outlying mining sites in the State of Nevada;

* the Hudson River Valley in the State of New York;

* the Norman Studios, within Jacksonville, Florida, where African-American casts and crews were used in the production of silent films;

* the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta in the State of Alabama;

* the Galveston Bay in the State of Texas;

* the Pullman site, State of Illinois;

* the northern coast of Maui, Hawaii; and

* historic sites on Midway Atoll.

Specifically, the studies are to:

* evaluate the national significance of the sites and the areas surrounding such sites;

* determine the suitability and feasibility of designating one or more sites as units of the National Park System;

* consider other alternatives for preservation, protection, and interpretation of the sites by Federal, State, or local governmental entities or private and nonprofit organizations;

* consult with interested Federal, State, or local governmental entities, private and nonprofit organizations, or any other interested individuals; and

* identify cost estimates for any Federal acquisition, development, interpretation, operation, and maintenance associated with the alternatives.

Additionally, the measure calls for "a study of alternatives for commemorating and interpreting the role of the Buffalo Soldiers in the early years of the national parks;" a "Reconstruction in the South study" that would "identify sites and resources in the Southern United States that are significant to the Reconstruction era;" and evaluate a boundary expansion for the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

Reports on these studies, if approved by Congress, would be due within three years.


Holy guacamole! I'll know the National Parks have hit pork barrel rock-bottom if Galveston Bay is added to the system.

This is a motley ensemble of very different ideas; the collection is too diverse to be considered as a single initiative. On that point alone, it looks like a wild flier.

For far-away, isolated locales to get some unusual feature declared a National Park, 'anchors' them and 'fixes' their future. It gives them 'solidity' and 'weight', purely & simply by having NPS/Fed signage erected. But the primary benefit falls to them, rather than the NPS, or the nation.

Cool sites in unusual jurisdictions, should be handled (protected) firstly by the jurisdiction itself. Even back in the Cold War, when I snorkeled the reefs of Guam, they were protecting specific sites this way, on their own. They have the authority, without 'making a Federal case out of it'. States (etc) do a lot of this, now; and this is the way it should be done, unless there is a real reason it should be Federal.

We have watched, OTOH, as the Federal government has classified far-away (oceanic) regions in ways that allows them to project sweeping power & control, in a manner that would be quite controversial, if it were not being done under the banner of environmental protection. The gambit is however not without risks, and its applicability or usefulness in the case of (relatively) tiny, specific assets, seems doubtful.

Any time you are looking at an underdeveloped or remote coastal setting, along the USA homeland (Olympic Peninsula, prominent & dramatic case-in-point), you are looking at potential trouble (the Peninsual is pounded by Land, Sea & Air). Swamps & deltas on the coast are very attractive to those pursuing activities that we don't want to encourage. Making them Parks, 'works', security-wise.

The USA basically has the Pacific Ocean on 'lock-down', typically using Fish & Game, Reserve etc devices. "Keep Out". And not without some justification. It is generally believed, eg, that light-mechanized Japanese gold-miners on the wild Washington coasts that latter became the Coastal Olympic National Park, were a projection of the Rising Sun initiative. They did this very widely all over the Pacific, putting what looked & acted like fishermen or guano companies or whatever would work locally, everywhere in the ocean. It appears that the Fed is acting to forestall & prevent the emergence of political & social problems, in far-flung Pacific settings that would be very hard to keep an effective eye on (without having a real presence there, ourselves).

If the Fed themselves thinks this is a smart move, from their own self-interested point of view [Limestone Formations National Park, eg (8,000 miles away), requiring recurring visits by the 'Sheriff of Nottingham'], then it's probably a shoo-in. If it's actually something closer to a misguided form of local activism, then it's a passing blip.

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