Knoxville Focus: Alexander: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Bill Takes Next Step in Making James K. Polk Home Part of the National Park System
Posted on July 7, 2017
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) this week said the Senate’s bipartisan energy and natural resources bill includes several Tennessee priorities – including taking the next step in making President James K. Polk’s home part of the National Park System and designating 20,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest as wilderness area.
“We talk a lot about the importance of science and math, but, according to the National Assessment of Education Progress, most high school seniors in America score the worst in history. I can think of no better way to encourage the study of U.S. history than to protect and preserve sites like President Polk’s home, Shiloh National Military Park and important landmarks of the Civil Rights Movement.”
Alexander continued, “Protecting nearly 20,000 acres in the Cherokee National Forest will also help protect our state’s natural heritage while giving the millions of people who visit the state every year an additional reason to come and enjoy the great outdoors, and I’m glad these Tennessee priorities are included in the bipartisan Senate energy and natural resources bill released today.”
Today, U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) unveiled the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 – which includes provisions from the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 that passed the Senate last year by a vote of 85-12. The Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 must now be considered on the Senate floor – and includes the following priorities that are important for Tennessee:
- The James K. Polk Presidential Home Study Act – legislation introduced by Alexander that would direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study for the James K. Polk Home. This study would be the next step in preserving the former president’s home as part of the National Park System. U.S. Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) introduced the same legislation in the House of Representatives, on January 11, 2017.
Sen. Alexander has previously said: “Wouldn’t it be more appropriate for the presidential home of President James K. Polk, who created the Department of Interior, which oversees the National Park Service, to be managed by the National Park Service? I sure think so.”
- The Tennessee Wilderness Act – legislation introduced by Alexander, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and U.S. Representative Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) that would designate nearly 20,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest as wilderness area.
Sen. Alexander has previously said: “I grew up hiking the mountains of East Tennessee, and conserving what are some of the wildest, most pristine and beautiful areas in our state gives future generations of Tennesseans the same sort of opportunity. The Tennessee Wilderness Act would help protect our natural heritage and give the millions of people who visit Tennessee each year an additional reason to come and enjoy our great outdoors.”
- The Shiloh National Military Park Boundary Adjustment and Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield Designation Act – legislation introduced by Alexander that would expand the boundary of Shiloh National Military Park to include three Civil War battlefields in Tennessee and Mississippi and designate Parker’s Crossroads as an affiliated area of the National Park System. U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced the same legislation in the House of Representatives, which passed on February 27, 2017.
Sen. Alexander has previously said: “Learning from the past helps us become better Americans in the future, and preserving and protecting these sites will allow future generations to learn their history by walking these fields. This legislation also provides an opportunity to attract more visitors to Tennessee and strengthen the local economies.”
- The African American Civil Rights Network Act – legislation Alexander cosponsored that establishes the African American Civil Rights Network to recognize and connect important landmarks of the Civil Rights Movement, including potentially two sites in Memphis.
Sen. Alexander has previously said: “The African American Civil Rights Network will help recognize and preserve as part of our national history sites that are central to the Civil Rights Movement, such as Memphis’ Mason Temple, the Church of God in Christ, and the Lorraine Hotel. This network will ensure the Civil Rights Movement remains at the front of our history and will help our children grow up learning about this pivotal movement.”
- The Land and Water Conservation Fund –Alexander cosponsored legislation that would permanently reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LCWF). The Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 would permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Over the past 50 years, the LWCF has provided Tennessee approximately $73 million for the state grant program and $118 million for federal land acquisition within the state.
Sen. Alexander has previously said: “The Land and Water Conservation Fund has played a large role in protecting Tennessee’s outdoors for over 50 years. In 2015, funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund helped complete efforts to conserve a nearly 10,000 acre tract of land, known as Rocky Fork, in the Cherokee National Forest in East Tennessee. In total, the LWCF has provided over $200 million to conservation and outdoor recreation efforts in Tennessee, and I cosponsored this legislation today because it will help preserve our state’s beautiful land, water resources and recreation areas so future generations have the same opportunities to enjoy them as we have.”