Washington, DC – Today, Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Congressmen Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Frank Wolf (R-VA) and John Delaney (D-MD) announced that legislation (S.476) to reinstate the C&O Canal National Historical Park Commission has passed both houses of Congress and will now go to the President’s desk to be signed in to law. The Commission was established at the same time as the park in 1971 to serve as a forum for the communities neighboring the park to provide input on park policy. It was reauthorized several times on a bipartisan basis before its authority expired in 2011. The legislation will reauthorize the Commission for 10 years following the date of enactment, and will have no significant effect on the federal budget.
“This is good news for Marylanders and anyone interested in preserving the rich natural and historic legacy of the C&O Canal. The C&O Canal National Park Historical Park Advisory Commission has been unmatched in its ability to bring together local communities and the National Parks Service. Its effectiveness in addressing the unique issues of the C&O Canal is a national model,” said Senator Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “By extending the C&O Canal National Historical Park Commission Congress has shown a willingness to strengthen the relationship between federal lands and local communities.”
“People have the right to have a say in what happens in their own community,” Senator Mikulski said. “And it is the responsibility of the federal government to support a process that ensures the peoples’ voices are being heard. This hard-fought victory for Maryland communities means the people who live and work along the C&O Canal National Historic Park will continue to have a say in the park’s future.”
“The C&O Canal National Historical Park is a treasure of the National Park System, providing a place for visitors to learn about the history of the canal and enjoy the natural beauty of the towpath,” said Congressman Van Hollen. “The Commission will once again serve to strengthen the relationship between the park and its surrounding communities.”
“The C&O Canal Commission has played a critical role in protecting and preserving the canal while at the same time providing a voice for communities along the canal,” said Congressman Wolf. “Keeping the commission intact is good for the park and the community.”
“The C&O Canal National Historical Park enshrines our nation’s past, delights area residents in the present, and should be a part of the future of Maryland,” said Congressman Delaney. “I am proud to see the House pass this legislation, because the reauthorization of the C&O Canal National Historical Park Commission gives Maryland communities that I represent a voice in the operations of the park. With Congressman Van Hollen and Congressman Wolf in the House, we’ve worked on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the canal to make sure that local voices are heard; that’s good for the park, good for our region, and good for the tourists around the country who visit the park.”
About the Commission:
The Commission is comprised of 19 members appointed by the Secretary of Interior to five year terms – eight from recommendations submitted by Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, and Allegany counties in Maryland; eight from recommendations submitted by the Governor of Maryland, the Governor of West Virginia, the Governor of Virginia, and the Mayor of the District of Columbia; and three at the Secretary’s discretion. The Commission serves without compensation, although it can incur nominal operating expenses from the existing Park Service budget. Its recommendations, which are made by majority vote, are non-binding.