Any NPS Budget Dollars Left for History?

Eagledale Ferry : Proposed NPS Satellite AdditionThere is a proposed satellite addition to the Minidoka Internment National Monument called Eagledale Ferry Dock, which is currently being considered by the US Congress. The addition would be a small piece of land from Bainbridge Island, Washington where the first Americans of Japanese decent were forced onto ferries after having been removed from their homes, to be relocated to internment camps during World War II. The spot represents the beginning of a dark period of American history, and it should be included as part of the larger story being told about the internment camps of the War. The list of people wanting to protect this place is long and includes some key personnel: the National Park Service, both Washington senators, and both congressman from the affected districts (Washington and Idaho). So what's the hang up? Money!

The project is being developed privately so far, with $2 million having been raised out of an estimated $5 million dollar project. This money is coming from private donors, the State of Washington, and the Conservation Fund. The Park Service would be on the hook for $400,000 in facility construction costs, and an estimated $200,000 in annual operational expenses. That means $600,000 up front. In the grand scheme of things, that isn't a lot of money. But, if you are the National Park Service, that represents a lot of money you don't have. Around the NPS, positions are being cut, pay-grades are being slashed, services reduced, and the much talked about maintenance backlog continues to grow, all at the time when Bush's new proposed Park budget is estimated at $11 $100 million less than last years budget.

In an article titled 'From Bainbridge Island to barbed-wire camp', Daniel Wenk, a senior park service official testifying before a congressional subcommittee is quoted as saying, the new park "could divert National Park Service resources that are needed for existing parks and programs".

If the options are saving some money or preserving our heritage, what do we choose? I think if you care for your country and your history the answer is obvious. What we choose to preserve reflects what we wish to say about ourselves, and by ignoring our history we ignore our national identity. If the conservatives in office care for the parks as much as they say they do, they will find the necessary federal funds to deliver this important piece of history to the Park Service.

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