WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (Both D-Md.) lauded today’s bipartisan Senate passage of a package of conservation and natural resources bills that will help preserve Maryland’s rich historic sites and protect wildlife, such as the Baltimore Oriole. The Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47) passed 92-8 and now heads to the House of Representatives.
The legislative package includes measures sponsored by Senators Cardin and Van Hollen to preserve President Street Station in Baltimore, the oldest surviving urban railroad terminal in America, and P.S. 103, the Henry Highland Garnet School, the elementary school where Justice Thurgood Marshall first learned many of the lessons that would make him a legendary lawyer and American jurist. In addition, the package includes permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has been a vital tool for the creation of urban parks, community green spaces and the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. It also includes reauthorization of the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, which promotes the long-term conservation, education, research, monitoring, and habitat protection for more than 380 species of migratory birds, including Maryland’s state bird, the Baltimore Oriole. In addition, the package establishes the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area to include counties in the states of Maryland and West Virginia.
“I could not be prouder to see these bills on track to final passage with bipartisan support. For years, we have worked to move Thurgood Marshall’s elementary school and President Street Station closer to improved and hopefully, permanent preservation, so that current and future generations can learn the facts about Baltimore’s role at both the start of the Civil War and peak of the Civil Rights movement,” said Senator Cardin. “The Baltimore Oriole and other migratory birds play a crucial role in our ecosystems, agriculture, and national and local identity. Restoring such habitats and promoting innovative conservation strategies are investments in Maryland’s economy and our natural resources.”
“Maryland is fortunate to be home to natural and historical treasures in all parts of our state. This legislation will help us to protect and preserve some of our greatest gems, including our historical battlefields, incredible wildlife, and the legacy of the transformative Marylander Thurgood Marshall. I am pleased we were able include these important Maryland projects in this bipartisan legislation,” said Senator Van Hollen.
Built in 1849 and opened in 1850, President Street Station was witness to the earliest conflicts of the Civil War. It currently is home to the Baltimore Civil War Museum and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. P.S. 103, where Thurgood Marshall attended elementary school, is in the Upton neighborhood of West Baltimore. America’s first African-American Supreme Court Justice, Baltimore-born Marshall is known for his fight to desegregate our nation’s public schools. The City of Baltimore has been working to rehabilitate P.S. 103, also known as Henry Highland Garnet School, since 2008.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is one of the nation’s bedrock environmental programs to conserve irreplaceable lands and improve outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the United States. Maryland has received approximately $226.6 million in LWCF funding over the past five decades, protecting places such as the Assateague Island National Seashore, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Monocacy National Battlefield and the C&O Canal National Historic Park. Active outdoor recreation is an important part of the Maryland economy. The Outdoor Industry Association has found that active outdoor recreation generates $14 billion in consumer spending in Maryland, 109,000 jobs that generate $4.4 billion in wages and salaries, and produces nearly $951 million annually in state and local tax revenue.
Established in 2000, The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act has consistently strengthened our federal investment in habitat protection, education, research and monitoring of birds considered neotropical migrants — birds that spend summers in the United States and winter in Latin America. Their presence has been vital to the well-being of our economy. Farmers rely on these birds to consume billions of harmful insects and rodent pests, pollinate crops, and disperse seeds. Nationwide, bird watchers include more than 47 million Americans who are part of a larger wildlife watching community that spends $30 billion annually.