CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 3989 is scheduled to be considered on the House floor on Tuesday, July 13, 2010, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY). The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural resources, which reported the bill by unanimous consent on June 16, 2010.
H.R. 3989 would require the Secretary of Interior to conduct a special resources study of the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, in Park County, Wyoming. Under the legislation, the study would evaluate national significance of the site and would determine the suitability and feasibility of designating it as a unit of the National Park System. In addition, the study would have to identify cost estimates for any federal acquisition, development, interpretation, operation, and maintenance associated with the alternatives considered under the study. The Secretary would be required to report the findings of the study within three years of funding being made available.
According to the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, the site was used as an internment camp for Japanese Americans between 1942 and 1945. According to the Foundation, before the end on the internment, “Heart Mountain would swell to Wyoming’s third largest city, housing nearly 11,000 citizen and alien internees in its tarpaper barracks and barbed-wire enclosures.” Today, the only remnants of the camp are “a couple of buildings and a towering chimney.” The underlying bill would require a study to determine if the site is feasible for designation as a unit of the National Park Service. The NPS is facing a large maintenance deficit and collapsing national park infrastructure. According to CRS, the NPS backlog for maintenance on existing buildings, trails, and other infrastructure was more than $9 billion in FY 2006. The backlog is a result of the NPS’s failing to do scheduled maintenance and upkeep that was not funded or carried out according to plan. As a result of the backlog, NPS’s infrastructure is deteriorating at a rapid rate. Some Members may be concerned that expanding the responsibilities of NPS in unsustainable without addressing the current management structure which has resulted in such a large, unfunded maintenance backlog.
According to CBO, H.R. 3989 would cost approximately $200,000 over the next three years.