To rename the Homestead National Monument of America near Beatrice, Nebraska, as the Homestead National Historical Park
STATEMENT OF SHAWN BENGE, ACTING DEPUTY DIRECTOR, OPERATIONS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, REGARDING S. 1910 AND H.R. 1472, BILLS TO RENAME THE HOMESTEAD NATIONAL MONUMENT OF AMERICA NEAR BEATRICE, NEBRASKA, AS THE HOMESTEAD NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK.
MARCH 4, 2020
Chairman Daines, Ranking Member King, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s views on S. 1910 and H.R. 1472, bills to rename the Homestead National Monument of America near Beatrice, Nebraska, as the Homestead National Historical Park.
The Department supports S. 1910 and H.R. 1472, as we believe that the name “Homestead National Historical Park” is an appropriate designation for this unit of the National Park System.
The Homestead National Monument of America was authorized by Congress in 1936, after acquisition of the site of the Daniel Freeman homestead, as a lasting memorial to the settlers who built the American West. The Freeman homestead was one of the first sites successfully claimed under the Homestead Act, which was enacted in 1862 to encourage the settlement of Western lands by offering ownership of 160 acres of land to heads of households who agreed to live on and farm the land for five years.
In 1971, legislation was passed to add the Freeman School, an original one-room prairie schoolhouse. Today, the park also includes the Homestead Heritage Center with interactive displays and 100 acres of restored tallgrass prairie.
The National Park Service encourages Congress to designate units of the National Park System in accordance with a standard pattern of nomenclature. Homestead National Monument of America, with the addition “of America” to the title “national monument” has made it an anomaly. Redesignating the unit as a national historical park would give the park a name that is one of the National Park Service’s standard designations, and one that is appropriate for a unit that is large and has a complexity of physical resources. This renaming would not have a significant financial impact as the park would update maps and signage as a part of routine maintenance and reordering of interpretive materials.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.