H.R. 1022: Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act

H.R. 1022

Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act

Sponsor
Rep. Jackie Speier

Date
January 24, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, January 24, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider, H.R. 1022, the Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-third majority vote for approval. The bill was introduced on March 10, 2011, by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and referred to the committee on Natural Resources, which held a mark up and reported the bill by unanimous consent on June 15, 2011.

 

Bill Summary

H.R. 1022 would require the Secretary of the Interior to carry out a study of alternatives for commemorating and interpreting the role of the Buffalo Soldiers in the early years of the National Park Service (NPS). The study would be required to include:

  • A historical assessment of the Buffalo Soldiers who served in National Parks in the years prior to the establishment of the National Park Service;
  • An evaluation of the suitability and feasibility of establishing a national historic trail commemorating the route traveled by the Buffalo Soldiers;
  • The identification of properties that could meet criteria for listing in the National Register of Historic Places or criteria for designation as National Historic Landmarks;
  • An evaluation of appropriate ways to enhance historical research, education, interpretation, and public awareness of the story of the Buffalo Soldiers' stewardship role in the National Parks; and
  • Any other matters that the Secretary of the Interior deems appropriate for this study.

H.R. 1022 would require that the study be completed and the results transmitted to Congress within three years of funds being made available for the study. According to CBO, conducting the study would cost about $400,000 over the next three years.

Background

According to House Report 112-166, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Buffalo Soldiers, the all African-American cavalrymen of the U.S. Army, rode from the San Francisco Presidio to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, serving as the protectors of several of the country's first national parks. Led by Lieutenant Colonel Charles Young, the first African American superintendent of Yosemite National Park, these de facto rangers built trails, preserved the giant sequoias, and protected the wildlife of Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks from poaching during these critical, formative years.  H.R. 1022 directs the Secretary of the Interior to research the role of the Buffalo Soldiers in protecting these nascent parks and examine, among other things, the possible creation of a National Historic Trail along the route used by these soldiers.

Cost

According to CBO, conducting the study would cost about $400,000 over the next three years.