STATEMENT OF STEPHANIE TOOTHMAN, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, CULTURAL RESOURCES, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS OF THE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, CONCERNING S. 2131, A BILL TO REAUTHORIZE THE RIVERS OF STEEL NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA, THE LACKAWANNA VALLEY NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA AND THE DELAWARE AND LEHIGH NATIONAL HERITAGE CORRIDOR.
MARCH 7, 2012
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 2131, a bill to reauthorize the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, the Lackawanna Valley National Heritage Area, and the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.
The Department recognizes the important work of the three national heritage areas to preserve historic, cultural, natural, and recreational resources in Pennsylvania. We recommend that S. 2131 be amended to authorize an extension for heritage area program funding until we have completed an Evaluation and Report on the accomplishments of the area and the future role of the National Park Service; and until program legislation is enacted that standardizes timeframes and funding for designated national heritage areas. Consistent with congressional directives in the 2009 and 2010 Interior Appropriations Acts, the Administration proposed focusing most national heritage area grants on recently authorized areas and reducing and/or phasing out funds to well-established recipients to encourage self-sufficiency in the FY 2013 Budget. The Department would like to work with Congress to determine the future federal role when heritage areas reach the end of their authorized eligibility for heritage program funding. We recommend that Congress enact national heritage legislation during this Congress.
There are currently 49 designated national heritage areas, yet there is no authority in law that guides the designation and administration of these areas. Program legislation would provide a much-needed framework for evaluating proposed national heritage areas, offering guidelines for successful planning and management, clarifying the roles and responsibilities of all parties, and standardizing timeframes and funding for designated areas.
Created by Public Law 104-333 in 1996, the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area (Rivers of Steel) is made up of eight counties in southwestern Pennsylvania known for their significant contributions to the steel industry in America. The mission of Rivers of Steel is to preserve and interpret the history of the region and share the dynamic story of the evolution of southwestern Pennsylvania from a small colonial settlement to the flourishing of the steel industry in the area.
The Lackawanna Valley National Heritage Area (Lackawanna) was established by Public Law 106-278 in 2000. The Lackawanna includes four counties in northeastern Pennsylvania with historical ties to the anthracite coal industry. These counties preserve nationally distinctive resources related to Pennsylvania and America's industrial history, including the history of major labor unions and the struggle to improve working conditions of mine workers. The mission of the Lackawanna is to conserve, interpret and develop the historical, cultural, natural and recreational resources associated with the area's significant history.
The Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (Delaware and Lehigh) was established by Public Law 100-692 in 1988, one of the earliest National Heritage Areas created by Congress. The Delaware and Lehigh follows the historic Delaware Canal and Lehigh Navigation Canal through eastern Pennsylvania. Completed in 1834, the Delaware Canal was an important early transportation route that transformed eastern Pennsylvania from an agrarian region to an industrialized society. The Delaware Canal is a designated National Historic Landmark and portions of the Lehigh Navigation Canal are on the National Register of Historic Places. The purpose of the Delaware and Lehigh is to provide an integrated management structure that will preserve and interpret the canals and their history.
The bedrock of the National Heritage Area concept has always been building partnerships for achieving goals. All three of these non-profit heritage areas, with government funding assistance since their establishment, have shown significant success in working with partners and the Federal government to preserve, interpret, and promote the significant resources in their local areas. Every Federal dollar has been matched with non-federal funds. For example in fiscal year 2011, Lackawanna's Federal appropriation was $446,112 while the amount of leveraged non-Federal dollars was $1,361,235. For the same fiscal year, Rivers of Steel received $682,000 in Federal funding and received $734,313 in leveraged dollars, while Delaware and Lehigh received $625,000 in Federal funding and received $1,566,395 in leveraged dollars, which equals an average of $2 in non-federal funds for every dollar of Federal funds. In total, Lackawanna has received nearly $6 million in Federal funding, Rivers of Steel has received approximately $12.2 million in Federal funding, and Delaware and Lehigh has received about $11.5 million in Federal funding.
S. 2131, as drafted, would extend the authorization for federal funding for these three heritage areas for an additional ten years. Currently, the Evaluation and Report required by Public Law 110-229 is being completed for Rivers of Steel and we anticipate the evaluation will be transmitted to Congress this year. There is no legislation requiring an Evaluation and Report for Lackawanna. To be consistent with other national heritage areas, we recommend the bill be amended to include Evaluation and Report language similar to Sec. 462 of Public Law 110-229 for Lackawanna. The NPS and the Delaware and Lehigh completed an evaluation for the Delaware and Lehigh, however, this evaluation did not include recommendations on what the future role of the National Park Service should be in the area. The National Park Service will take another look at the evaluation and include recommendations on the future role of the National Park Service prior to transmitting it to Congress in order to be consistent with the other reports.
We recommend a technical amendment to the long title of the bill to make it clear that the bill would extend the authorization for federal funding for the heritage areas instead of reauthorizing the heritage areas. While the three heritage areas face a sunset date for their federal funding, their national heritage area designation will not sunset.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my testimony. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the committee may have.