National Park Service

Congress scrubs Thomas Jefferson from Gateway to the West

With nary a nay, Congress has scrubbed Thomas Jefferson’s name from a park built to celebrate one of his life’s great achievements and the way it changed America. The famous arch on the Mississippi River’s western bank in St. Louis anchors what has long been named the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. On Thursday, however, a unanimous voice vote in the House sent to President Trump a bill to rename it Gateway Arch National Park. The bill passed the Senate without objection in December. Those involved hasten to note that the act isn’t rooted in political correctness. Instead, they say it’s a sound marketing scheme. Since hardly any Americans know the park’s name but practically every American knows the Arch, it is sensible to refer to the place by its most familiar landmark. “This gives this national icon an updated and recognizable name,” Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Democrat Hawaii, said during the House debate Monday. The bill was introduced by the two senators from Missouri: Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Roy Blunt. The House version also had Republican and Democratic sponsors. Robert Vogel, acting deputy director of the National Park Service, signaled the administration’s support in testimony to Congress in July. “The name ‘Jefferson National Expansion Memorial’ does not readily identify where the memorial is located or the fact that the key feature of the park is the Gateway Arch,” he told lawmakers. “Using ‘Gateway Arch’ in the name of the site would make the name immediately recognizable to all citizens and future visitors to St. Louis.” Indeed, increasing the number of those future visitors is more of a reason for the change than Jefferson’s parenting with Sally Hemings. In its heyday, the Arch drew 3.2 million people a year, but that number has fallen to 2.3 million for various reasons. A name change and a private-public renovation to the tune of $380 million, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony set for July 3, are also part of this campaign. “Not at all,” said Ryan McClure, communications director for the Gateway Arch Park Foundation, when asked if modern politics were behind the removal of a past political master. “With this renovation, I think Jefferson’s role is highlighted even more than in the past. Jefferson’s vision is still recognized and honored in the park, and I don’t think this diminishes his role at all,” he said. When the park was envisioned between the world wars, its primary booster, Luther Ely Smith, saw it as “a suitable and permanent public memorial to the men who made possible the western territorial expansion of the United States, particularly President Jefferson.” The Gateway to the West refers to the Louisiana Purchase, the real estate deal engineered by Jefferson’s administration when European strongman Napoleon Bonaparte wanted money for war. With the stroke of a pen and pennies on the acre in 1803, Jefferson added 828,000 square miles to the U.S. But much that came after that is also a part of the park. Explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set off on their fabled journey from a spot beneath the arch. The park also holds the Old Courthouse where Dred Scott, whose name would sound above the din of America’s bloodiest battles, first sued for his freedom from slavery. Much of this was in President Franklin Roosevelt’s mind when he signed an executive order creating the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and when Congress gave its imprimatur in 1954. In addition to famous names, Congress said in the chestier tones that Americans used to employ when talking about their history, the park would honor “the hardy hunters, trappers, frontiersmen, pioneers and others who contributed to such expansion.” Some believe all this history will be lost in the name change. While relieved to learn that social justice storm troopers weren’t behind the change, Illinois lawyer David Shestokas, who has followed the name switch at his blog, wondered if something wasn’t being lost nonetheless. “Why not call it ‘Jefferson Gateway Arch National Park?’” he asked. “That’s what all this was supposed to be about in the first place because without Jefferson there is no Louisiana Purchase.”

Fair enough..   Regardless.. having grown up in St. Louis, I’m excited to see the renovated park.  If you’ve never seen the Arch, put it on your bucket list.    🙂

Park Service cancels funding for project ‘honoring legacy’ of Black Panther Party

The National Park Service told the Washington Free Beacon it is no longer providing funding for a controversial project “honoring the legacy” of the Black Panther Party after outrage that the agency would spend taxpayer dollars to memorialize a group that murdered a park ranger in the 1970s. The Free Beacon revealed last month that the Park Service gave roughly $100,000 to the University of California, Berkeley for a research project on the Marxist extremist group to “memorialize a history that brought meaning to lives far beyond the San Francisco Bay Area.” “Committed to truthfully honoring the legacy of [Black Panther Party] BPP activists and the San Francisco Bay Area communities they served, the project seeks to document the lives of activists and elders and the landscapes that shaped the movement,” the National Park Service stated in the grant awarded for the project. A captain in the Black Panther Party murdered National Park Service ranger Kenneth Patrick while he was on patrol near San Francisco in 1973. Patrick was shot three times by Veronza Leon Curtis Bowers Jr., who is currently serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. Patrick left behind a widow and three children. The Fraternal Order of Police, the largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers with over 330,000 members, sent a letter to President Donald Trump last week expressing “outrage and shock” that the National Park Service would fund a project honoring the legacy of the Black Panther Party. “Mr. President, as far as we are concerned the only meaning they brought to any lives was grief to the families of their victims,” wrote Chuck Canterbury, the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police. “According to our research, members of this militant anti-American group murdered 16 law enforcement officers over the course of their history. Among their victims was U.S. Park Ranger Kenneth C. Patrick. He was murdered in cold blood by three members of the Black Panther Party on 5 August 1973. His killer, who remains behind bars, still considers himself a Black Panther and a ‘political prisoner.'” “It is appalling that the National Park Service, Ranger Patrick’s own agency, now proposes to partner with [Berkeley] and two active members of this violent and repugnant organization,” Canterbury said. The FBI labels the Black Panther Party as advocates for “the use of violence and guerilla tactics to overthrow the U.S. government.”

..among other things.  Today’s “New Black Panther Party” is a socialist/communist, entitlement-minded, black racist, domestic terrorist organization.  Good on the Trump Administration for stopping the National Park Service from funding (with our hard-earned tax dollars) this painfully offensive project.

Trump’s 1st Qtr. Salary to Go to Fix Antietam Battlefield

The Interior Department announced that it will be using the $78,333 given to them by President Trump to revitalize an important Civil War landmark, according to the Washington Times. Earlier this year, Trump promised to donate his salary to various projects and organizations. He previously presented a check to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in April, directing that the funds be used by the National Park Service. Zinke said he would be using the funds to renovate Maryland’s Antietam National Battlefield, a few miles outside Harper’s Ferry, W.V. Antietam, known in the South as the Battle of Sharpsburg, took place in September 1862 and was the bloodiest single day in the entire war. The battle was an important victory for the Union, as it stopped the Confederates’ first drive toward the North. More than 5,600 troops alone were killed along a strip of road nicknamed “Bloody Lane,” as Union Gen. Israel Richardson met Confederate Gen. Richard Anderson’s troops in the peak of the conflict. The announcement came 154 years to the week that the war turned all but completely in the Union’s favor just 40 miles to the north in Gettysburg, Pa.

How cool is this?!?  Can you even imagine someone like Obama or Hillary giving their salary back?  No.  Of course not!  So, major kudos to Pres. Trump for donating his salary for the improvement of this historic Civil War battlefield!  Excellent!!   🙂

Entrance fees rising in some national parks

Be prepared to pay a bit more if you’re headed to some national parks and recreation areas this summer. After a six-year moratorium, the federal government is increasing the price of admission at some of its public lands and raising the fees charged for camping, boating, cave tours and other activities. The National Park Service says the money expected to be raised is just a fraction of the $11.5 billion needed to repair and maintain roads, trails and park buildings. Some members of Congress have expressed concern about the fee increases, but National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said at a March congressional hearing that visitors are still getting an incredible deal when compared to other recreational pursuits. “We cannot greet them with failing facilities,” Jarvis said of the 295 million people expected to visit National Park Service properties, which also include sites like the Lincoln Memorial. Fees have increased in eight parks, including Yosemite, so far and are likely to rise in several dozen more parks in the coming months.

I’d be curious to see what their vendor contracts look like, and what their acquisition processes are.. Perhaps privatizing some of that would save the National Park Service’s budget a LOT.