STATEMENT OF VICTOR KNOX, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, PARK PLANNING, FACILITIES, AND LANDS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS AND PUBLIC LANDS OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES REGARDING H.R. 4400, A BILL TO DESIGNATE THE SALT POND VISITOR CENTER AT CAPE COD NATIONAL SEASHORE AS THE THOMAS P. O'NEILL, JR. SALT POND VISITOR CENTER'
MAY 17, 2012
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you to present the views of the Department of the Interior on H.R. 4400, a bill to designate the Salt Pond Visitor Center at Cape Cod National Seashore as the Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Salt Pond Visitor Center.
The Department supports enactment of H.R. 4400.
H.R. 4400 would recognize the contributions that former Speaker Thomas (Tip) P. O'Neill, Jr. made toward the protection of the Cape Cod National Seashore by naming the Salt Pond Visitor Center after him. In 1958, Representative Tip O'Neill became one of the first members to support protection of lands on Cape Cod as a national seashore through introduction of legislation in the 85th Congress. This important legislation proposed establishing a 40-mile long national park so every American had the ability to enjoy the marshes, ponds, and wildlife, and pristine sandy beach of Cape Cod.
Representative O'Neill continued these efforts by cosponsoring bills in the 86th and 87th Congress, testifying at hearings, and advocating for support of the legislation that led to Public Law 87-126, which established Cape Cod National Seashore when it was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy on August 7, 1961. Tip O'Neill publicly acknowledged that the legislation to establish the national seashore was a group effort and praised the commitment and the contributions of Rep. Edward Boland, Rep. James Burke, Rep. Hastings Keith and President Kennedy.
The national seashore was formally established in 1966 and Representative O'Neill attended the May 30, 1966 dedication of the Salt Pond Visitor Center. Tip O'Neill, Jr. and his family maintained a home in Harwich Port, on Cape Cod and he was a frequent visitor to the national seashore during his tenure in Congress and during his retirement years.
While the National Park Service Management Policies 2006 state that the National Park Service will discourage and curtail the use and proliferation of commemorative works, there are two exceptions. One is when Congress specifically authorizes an exception and the other is when there is a compelling justification for the recognition, there is a strong association between the park and the person being commemorated, and at least five years have elapsed since the death of the person.
Tip O'Neill's more than fifty-year commitment to public service, including 34 years as a Member of Congress has made him an honored and esteemed friend to the mission of the National Park Service in preserving and protecting our nation's natural, historic, and cultural resources. We believe this legislation is an appropriate way to recognize Thomas P. O'Neill's role in protecting the national parks of Massachusetts and his relationship to Cape Cod National Seashore.
Mr. Chairman this concludes my statement and I will be happy to answer any questions that members of the committee may have.