September 17, 2009

SENATE PASSES CARDIN, MILULSKI FUNDING REQUEST FOR HARRIET TUBMAN VISITORS CENTER

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate has passed legislation containing an appropriations request by U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD) ) to provide $475,000   in continued funding for the federal-state Harriet Tubman Visitors Center at the State Park and envisioned National Historical Park.   

 

In January, Senators Cardin and Mikulski were joined by Senators   Charles Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand (both D-NY) in co-sponsoring S. 227, which would create the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Maryland and the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in New York.  A similar measure has been introduced in the U.S. House.   In July, the National Park Service officially came out in support of the two National Historical Parks as a way to honor Ms. Tubman.

 

"This Visitors Center will serve as a focal point of a growing tourism economy in the region while also celebrating one of America's true heroines," said Senator Cardin, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.  "This Visitors Center will provide information about the life and times of Harriet Tubman while also assisting those who want to learn more about the Underground Railroad and the important role it served in our nation's history."

 

"Harriet Tubman was a courageous fighter who delivered 300 slaves to freedom on her Underground Railroad and was tireless in her commitment to fight for those who could not fight for themselves. Her legacy continues to inspire me. I was proud to fight for funds in the federal checkbook to preserve and protect her legacy," said Senator Mikulski, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

 

In Maryland, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park would include historically important landscapes in Dorchester, Caroline and Talbot counties that are evocative of the life of Harriet Tubman.   The Maryland properties include about 2,200 acres in Caroline County that comprise the Poplar Neck plantation that Tubman escaped from in 1849.   The 725 acres of viewshed across the Choptank River in Talbot County would also be included in the Park.   In Dorchester County, the parcels would not be contiguous, but would include about 2,775 acres.   All of them are included within the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge boundaries or abut that resource land. The National Park Service would not own any of these lands.

 

Last year, Senators Cardin and Mikulski were able to secure $475,000 in a FY 2009 appropriations bill for a Visitors Center.  Governor O'Malley committed $1.6 million in his FY 2009 budget to finance the center's design, which will serve as a national model and destination for sustainable and environmentally sensitive building. 

 

Earlier in the week, Senators Cardin and Mikulski and Congressman Frank Kratovil (MD-1) announced that the National Park Service's Land and Water Conservation Fund will provide a grant of almost $1.2 million to develop outdoor recreation facilities in the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park.     Earlier in September, the Senators and Congressman also announced an 823 acre addition to the adjacent Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge that helps make up this important natural and historic landscape.