H.R. 4202, the Fort Ontario Study Act

H.R. 4202

the Fort Ontario Study Act

Rep. John Katko

September 6, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

On­­­­ Tuesday, September 6, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 4202, the Fort Ontario Study Act, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 4202 was introduced on December 9, 2015, by Rep. John Katko (R-NY) and was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which ordered the bill reported by unanimous consent on June 15, 2016.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4202 authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to initiate a special resource study of Fort Ontario, a military installation in Oswego, New York. In the study, the Secretary of the Interior will evaluate the site’s national significance, determine the suitability and feasibility of designating Fort Ontario as a unit of the National Park System, and consider other alternatives for preservation, protection, and interpretation of the lands by Federal, State, or local governmental entities, or private and nonprofit organizations.



Fort Ontario was initially constructed by the British to protect the area around the east end of Lake Ontario in Oswego, New York. Because the French Army destroyed the original fort in 1756, the British Army repaired and built a much stronger and larger fort on the same site in 1759. The British later abandoned Fort Ontario during the American Revolution, and it was eventually destroyed again by the American troops in 1778. Despite surrendering at Yorktown in 1781, the British reoccupied Oswego in 1782 and rebuilt Fort Ontario for the third time before turning it over to American occupation in 1796.[1]


During the War of 1812, British forces captured and destroyed the fort for the fourth time. Following a period of abandonment, construction of a fourth Fort Ontario began in 1839 amidst tensions arising from Canada’s Patriot War. The United States later upgraded the fort’s defenses in 1860 amid fears of British intervention in the Civil War.[2]


Under continued United States control, Fort Ontario later served as a training post from 1903 to 1905, a hospital camp during World War I, and a training installation for military police and anti-aircraft units in World War II. The Fort also operated as the nation’s only emergency refugee shelter during World War II, housing approximately 982 predominately-Jewish refugees.[3]


After almost two hundred years of active military use, the U.S. Army abandoned the fort in 1946 and transferred it to the State of New York. In 1953, Fort Ontario opened as a New York state historic site, and it was also added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. Fort Ontario remains open to the public today.[4]


Fort Ontario is the only fort in the United States that has been used in every war since the French and Indian War. According to the bill’s sponsor, “Preserving this historic location as a National Park will not only preserve the rich history but has the potential to grow tourism and boost the regional economy of Central New York.”[5]

[1] See House Report 114-688 – at 1.
[2] See House Report 114-688 – at 2.
[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] See Rep. Katko Press Release, December 10, 2015.


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the legislation would cost about $250,000, subject to the availability of appropriated funds. Enacting H.R. 4202 would not affect direct spending or revenues and therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 4202 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact John Wilson with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1811.