CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
The House is scheduled to consider H.R. 1287 on Tuesday, September 8, 2009, under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. H.R. 1287 was introduced on March 3, 2009, by Rep. Visclosky (D-IN) and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which took no official action.
H.R. 1287 authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitor Commission. This memorandum is to establish the management and operational duties for the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center.
After entering into a memorandum of understanding, the Secretary and the Commission would be authorized to then lease space in the Visitor Center for a visitor informational center for Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Secretary would be authorized to install exhibits and information centers related to the use and resources of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore costing no more than $1.5 million. Additionally, the Secretary would be authorized to use park staff from the Indiana Dunes to provide visitors with information at the exhibit and information center.
The Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center is located in northwest Indiana along the southern tip of Lake Michigan. Dorothy Buell was president of the Save the Dunes Council. Through the efforts of the Save the Dunes Council and other organizations, the 89th Congress designated 8,330 acres of land and water as the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Today, the Dunes consist of over 15,000 acres of Federally protected park land.
The Dunes are home to sandy beaches along Lake Michigan, as well as a variety of plant and wild life. The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was recognized by Congress in 1966 through the efforts of Henry Cowles, a University of Chicago botanist, Illinois Senator Paul H. Douglas, and Ms. Buell, who lived near the Dunes and was an English teacher.
A CBO score for H.R. 1287 was not yet available at press time. However, according to the score for and identical bill passed in the 110th Congress, CBO estimates that "the NPS would spend $1.5 million over the 2009-2013 period for exhibits in the new visitor facility. CBO also estimates that the leasing provisions of the bill would create budget authority of about $2 million in 2009 for a capital lease that would be executed with the Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission (PCCRVA, the owner of the visitor center). We estimate that annual lease payments under the new contract would increase direct spending by about $1 million over the 2009-2018 period."