Indiana Dunes would become Indiana’s first National Park under new legislation

West Beach, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Portage, IN, USA (J. Crocker [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons)

West Beach, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Portage, IN, USA (J. Crocker [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons)

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly and Congressman Pete Visclosky, along with the support of the entire Indiana Congressional delegation, have introduced respective legislation in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to designate the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as a National Park.

Specifically, the legislation would retitle the “Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore” as the “Indiana Dunes National Park”. The designation would create the first National Park in Indiana and the 60th National Park in the United States, which would give greater recognition to the natural beauty of the dunes and potentially draw more visitors and boost the local economy.

Due to the vast biological diversity and geological features of the Northwest Indiana lakeshore, the first Director of the National Park Service, Mr. Stephen Mather, proposed designating the southern shore of Lake Michigan as the “Sand Dunes National Park” in 1916. Unfortunately, this proposal was abandoned at the onset of World War I, but the Indiana Congressional delegation is again pushing for that designation.

Idaho Senate Approves Memorial Asking for National Park Designation for Craters of the Moon


Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

By  via Boise Weekly

Despite pushback from the Idaho Farm Bureau, the Idaho Senate on Monday approved a measure calling for the state’s congressional delegation to press for national park status for the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

“Our congressional delegation told us, ‘Before we go forward with this, we want to make sure that the state is behind this.’ They don’t need our approval; they could take this and go with it. But they really want to make sure there’s local support,” said Sen. Jeff Siddoway (R-Terreton), sponsor of Senate Joint Memorial 101. “We’ve got some communities over there that are struggling and the water concerns are a nightmare. Some of the local folks are trying everything possible to help their community.”

The Farm Bureau argued that re-designating the Craters to a national park might restrict area farmers from hauling hay, cattle or sheep on highways that run through the monument.

Siddoway reminded his fellow lawmakers that, in 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt gave the title of U.S. Highway 20/26 to the state of Idaho.

“The highway belongs to the state, not the Park Service and that’s the way it would stay,” he said, adding that some businesses had already expressed interest in building new campgrounds, hotels or restaurants in the area if there were to be a national park designation.

“It’s not a panacea, but it would bring some economic stability to the area,” Siddoway said.

The bill passed on a 20-13 vote and moves to the Idaho House for its consideration.

Chiricahua National Monument could become a national park

Chiricahua National Monument

Chiricahua National Monument

By Douglas Kreutz (The Arizona Daily Star)

Some residents of Southern Arizona have launched a campaign to have Chiricahua National Monument southeast of Willcox redesignated as Chiricahua National Park, and they’re getting support from a member of Congress.

U.S. Rep. Martha McSally says she is planning to introduce legislation to authorize the change, which requires an act of Congress.

Chiricahua Monument — a preserve of 11,985 acres known for its spectacular rock formations, scenic viewpoints and extensive network of trails — would “have no significant changes other than a name change,” said Allen Etheridge, superintendent of the monument. Designation as a national park “wouldn’t change boundaries or increase the budget.”

Bob Gent, a member of the Sierra Vista Tourism Commission and coordinator of the Campaign for Chiricahua National Park, said he and others in Southern Arizona strongly believe that a redesignation is merited.

“Chiricahua National Monument truly is a geologic wonder of the world, and it deserves national park status,” Gent said. “It’s unique in its scenic beauty.”

Hours After State Of The Union, Senate Targets National Parks

By Claire Moser (via Think Progress)

Just hours after President Obama’s State of the Union address highlighted the effort to protect more public lands and waters than any other administration, the U.S. Senate is poised to vote on a controversial and unpopular proposal that aims to block the protection of new parks, monuments, and historic sites around the country.

Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer’s (R) proposal, which is being offered as an amendment to a bill that would approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, would add additional paperwork and cost to every locally-driven conservation effort that requires federal designation or land purchase by a U.S. agency.

“This amendment’s clear aim is to slow and stop the protection of new parks in the U.S,” said Matt Lee-Ashley, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “But trying to tie red tape around everything from Civil War battlefields to local trails projects might be one of the most unpopular anti-environmental ideas the new Senate leadership could have possibly started with.”

A public opinion survey of more than 1,000 likely 2016 voters, released last week by the Center for American Progress, found that the idea of stopping the creation of new national parks and monuments is one of the most unpopular ideas that the new Congress is considering, with nearly seven out of ten respondents expressing opposition.

Critics of Senator Fischer’s proposal note that the barriers to new parks that the amendment creates, like requiring the Secretary of the Interior to prove that new designations do not impede other management, would likely be overcome easily, but not without unnecessary paperwork, additional time, and bureaucratic cost to taxpayers. The impacts of the amendment would extend to projects like fishing access points funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the protection of Civil War Battlefields, and the creation of new national wildlife refuges.

The Fischer amendment echoes a proposal introduced by Representative Don Young (R-AK) in the House of Representatives last week that would strip current and future presidents’ authority to designate new national monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act. Both Republican and Democratic presidents have used their authority under the Act to protect public lands and historic sites, including many of the country’s most iconic places such as the Grand Canyon and Statue of Liberty.

Claire Moser is the Research and Advocacy Associate with the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress. You can follow her on Twitter at @Claire_Moser.

North Woods national park proponents hiring outreach coordinator to promote plan

By Nick Sambides Jr. (via Bangor Daily News)

The effort to create a North Woods national park adjacent to Baxter State Park soon will have a local voice to answer people’s questions and enlist their support.

David Farmer, a spokesman for leading park advocate Lucas St. Clair and Katahdin Woods and Waters, said that the outreach coordinator position is “a continuation of what we have been working on.”

“That’s having one-on-one conversations with people,” Farmer said Tuesday. “We believe that when people have an opportunity to sit down and talk about the park and have their questions answered, that they are likely to support the park.”

The coordinator will be joining two workers from the company that oversees entrepreneur Roxanne Quimby’s lands in Maine, Eliotsville Plantation Inc., who give tours and hold events in the proposed park area, Farmer said. The park would be located on land donated by Quimby.

The creation of the 20-hour-a-week position, which Farmer said will be filled as soon as possible, follows a Dec. 22 endorsement of the park proposal by Penobscot Indian Nation Chief Kirk E. Francis. Francis called upon U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, to introduce a bill to Congress supporting the creation of the park and recreation area.

A joint statement released by the senators on Tuesday indicated that they continue to consider the idea, but have not committed to legislation.

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