President Signs Park Legislation
Contact: Tom Baker, Management Assistant, (906) 337-1104, ext131
(Calumet, MI) President Barack Obama signed the historic Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 on Monday, March 30, which includes significant changes in Keweenaw National Historical Park's legislation. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar noted, "It would not have happened without the patient and tireless efforts of Americans across the country: hard-working citizens who are saving historic sites in their communities so that we never forget our past; (and) business leaders who know that good stewardship makes good economic sense."
The National Park Service management team in Calumet and Senator Levin's office, along with the support of Senator Debbie Stabenow and Congressman Bart Stupak, worked several years for changes that will benefit the park, its Advisory Commission, and, by extension, the entire Copper Country.
The change that is most important to the Copper Country is that the match requirement imposed on the Keweenaw NHP Advisory Commission has been removed. The Commission, comprised of seven members from the community, has legislative authority to work outside of the park's two units with federal funds, which the National Park Service cannot do. The removal of the match requirement for federal funds that the Commission receives will enable it to accomplish important preservation work that was envisioned when the park was established.
The second change will potentially affect owners of historic properties within park boundaries, as the requirement for matching financial assistance grants from the National Park Service has been reduced to a 1-to-1 match. Congress found that the original 4-to-1 match was so onerous as to render it infeasible to achieve the preservation and interpretive goals of the park. This 1-to-1 match will be reflected in future grant programs administered by the National Park Service at Keweenaw NHP.
The third important change affecting how the National Park Service operates here is the removal of the prohibition of acquiring contaminated lands. Keweenaw NHP was one of few national parks with this prohibition in its legislation. Park Superintendent Jim Corless emphasized, "The NPS will acquire lands only with the utmost consideration for park purposes and subject to the same contaminated- land acquisition policies applied to other national parks and federal agencies. This change, however, will greatly increase the flexibility we have in considering the purchase of lands or preservation easements."
Corless continued, "The support of the Congressional delegation, and particularly Senator Levin, was critical in achieving these changes. The increased flexibility in managing the park can be truly transformative in park operations and the preservation and interpretation of the Copper Country."