National Park Service Press Release

For Immediate Release:
December 19, 2014
Contact(s):
Jeffrey_Olson@nps.gov, 202-208-6843
 
April_Slayton@nps.gov, 202-208-6843


Defense Authorization Act Expands National Park System

WASHINGTON – National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis welcomed a package of provisions included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015 and signed into law by President Obama today.

“This expansion of the national park system helps builds momentum as we prepare for the centennial of the National Park Service in 2016,” Jarvis said. “This will enable us to tell more of our nation’s richly diverse stories and give people opportunities to find their park.”

The National Park Service supported the new parks in testimony before Congress and most were the subject of studies that showed the sites met criteria for inclusion in the national park system.

The NDAA also authorizes the U.S. Mint to strike commemorative coins honoring the 2016 National Park Service Centennial. The NDAA provides an extension of heritage area authorities and extends until 2021 and expands American Battlefield Protection Program grants to include American Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields. It also allows the addition of new lands to eight existing parks; designates two new wild and scenic rivers and authorizes the study of about a dozen potential new parks and new wild and scenic rivers.

The bill establishes or authorizes seven new parks in eight different states:

  • Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park will be comprised of specific historic sites and resources within the John H. Chaffee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor which stretches from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, to Worcester, Massachusetts. The park will protect and interpret resources associated with the development of textile mills and other industries in the valley.
  • Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument in the greater Las Vegas, Nevada, area will protect and interpret significant Pleistocene paleontological, scientific, educational and recreational resources. The monument will be created with the transfer of 22,650 acres of land from the Bureau of Land Management to the National Park Service.
  • Valles Caldera National Preserve, an historic ranch with vast natural and cultural resources that lies within a volcanic caldera in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico, is being transferred from the Valles Caldera Trust to the National Park Service. Grazing, hunting and fishing, trapping and other traditional uses will continue at the ranch. The legislation also provides protections for Native American archeological and sacred sites, dissolves the Valles Caldera Trust, provides special hiring authorities for current Trust employees, and governs the transition of assets and liabilities to the National Park Service.
  • Pershing Park near the White House is re-designated as the World War I Memorial in honor of veterans throughout the nation who served in that war. The District of Columbia World War I Memorial on the National Mall will continue to be dedicated to District residents who served in World War I.
  • Coltsville National Historical Park in Hartford, Connecticut, is authorized to be established after the Secretary of the Interior acquires sufficient lands for a manageable park, including space in the renovated East Armory building.  The park will protect and interpret resources associated with the historic Colt arms manufacturing facilities and community.
  • Harriet Tubman National Historical Park is authorized to be established after the Secretary of the Interior acquires sufficient lands for a manageable park.  The park will protect and interpret resources associated with the life and work of Harriet Tubman in Auburn, New York, where she lived in her later years after her Underground Railroad work. The park will be a companion to the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
  • Manhattan Project National Historical Park is authorized to be established after the National Park Service and the Department of Energy enter into an agreement.  The park will protect and interpret resources associated with the development of the atomic bomb during World War II. The park will have three locations: Hanford, Washington, Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee. It will be administered in partnership with the Department of Energy which will continue to own most facilities.

The U.S. Mint is authorized to issue $5 gold, $1 silver, and half-dollar clad coins in 2016 to commemorate the Centennial of the National Park Service. The proceeds of the coins, which are sought after by collectors, will go to the National Park Foundation for use in funding park projects and programs. The National Park Service commemorative coins will be one of just two sets of U.S. commemorative coins issued in 2016.

The bill includes support for the following heritage areas until at least 2021: Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Area, Pennsylvania; Coal National Heritage Area, West Virginia; Steel Industry National Heritage Area, Pennsylvania; Essex National Heritage Area, Massachusetts; Hudson River National Heritage Area, New York; Lackawanna National Heritage Area, Pennsylvania; Schuylkill River National Heritage Area, Pennsylvania; Wheeling National Heritage Area, West Virginia; Erie Canal National Heritage Area, New York; John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Area, Rhode Island/Massachusetts; Quinebaug and Shetucket National Heritage Area, Connecticut; America’s Agricultural Heritage Partnership National Heritage Area, Iowa; Ohio and Erie National Heritage Area, Ohio; Automobile National Heritage Area, Michigan; and Yuma National Heritage Area, Arizona.

The NDDA also re-designates the River Valley National Heritage Corridor as the Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor, Conn.; re-designates the Automobile National Heritage Area as the MotorCities National Heritage Area, Michigan; and transitions the Blackstone Heritage Corridor’s federal commission to a non-profit management entity.

The NDAA also makes these adjustments to boundaries of these existing parks:

  • First State National Historical Park, Delaware: addition of sites in Wilmington (Old Swedes Church, Fort Christina), Dover (John Dickinson Plantation) and Lewes (Ryves Holt House) are authorized.
  • Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument, Maryland: part of the national monument is re-designated as a national historical park; addition of other Tubman-related sites in Talbot, Caroline, and Dorchester counties in Maryland, are authorized. The park will operate in partnership with Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and Harriet Tubman State Park.
  • Oregon Caves National Monument, Oregon is re-designated as Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve and increased by about 4,000 acres transferred from the U.S. Forest Service lands to the National Park Service to promote protection of critical natural resources and tourism.
  • Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania. The Civil War-era Gettysburg Train Station and 45 acres of environmentally important land at the base of Big Round Top are authorized to be added to the park.
  • Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin. The Ashland Harbor Breakwater Light Station is added to the park, making it the seventh historic light station included in the park.
  • Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, New Jersey. Historic Hinchliffe Stadium, one of the few remaining structures associated with the Negro Baseball League in the early- to mid-20th century is added to the park. The National Park Service will not own the stadium, but will provide assistance in interpreting it.
  • Lower East Side Tenement National Historic Site, New York. A second building is added to the historic site, an affiliated area, which interprets life as an immigrant in New York City in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The historic site is privately run with assistance from the National Park Service.
  • San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, Texas. Adds approximately 137 acres of land associated with the historic Spanish missions that are protected and interpreted at this park.  Lands will be donated to the National Park Service.
  • Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi; authorizes the addition of three Civil War battlefields , (Raymond, Champion Hill, and Port Gibson) – where key conflicts occurred as the Union Army under General Ulysses Grant advanced to capture the city of Vicksburg.

The bill also authorizes studies, designates two wild and scenic rivers and expands a third, and provides a number of other National Park Service-related provisions.

Further details on National Park Service provisions of the NDAA are available here.