STUDY MAY BRING NPS DESIGNATION TO HUDSON VALLEY
03-30-10 - 3:30 p.m. - Legislation that could lead to Columbia County and all of the Hudson Valley becoming part of the National Park System is wending its way through Congress.
Introduced by Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-Saugerties), legislation authorizing a study by the National Park Service to see if the Hudson Valley should be part of the National Park System has been approved by the House of Representatives. Senate Bill S.3131 seeking the same study was introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and is now awaiting action in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
"I am optimistic that this bill will soon pass the Senate and be signed into law by the President, allowing the area to gain proper national recognition that would make it more attractive to visitors and businesses. This is a momentous day for those of us who live in the Hudson River Valley, and one that I believe will eventually lead to a National Park designation for the region," Hinchey said in a recent statement.
The study is required for admission to the park system. The study proposed by the legislation would include the entire Hudson River Valley, from Fort Edward in Washington County down through Westchester County. If the NPS study finds that the Hudson River Valley would be a good fit as part of the National Park System, additional legislation would be required to make the actual designation.
Hinchey spokesman Mike Morosi told ccSCOOP that the study will take three years to complete. He also explained that the legislation would not alter the status of the state historic sites within the region, including the Olana and Clermont, and predicted that designation of the area as part of the National Park System would give the region an “elevated status” that could bring new resources and funding.
Hinchey's bill outlines specific guidelines to ensure that the National Park Service study recognizes the realities of the Hudson River Valley. These guidelines require the NPS to examine closely park unit models, in particular national river and recreation areas, as well as other landscape protection models that encompass large areas of non-federal lands within their designated boundaries and foster public and private collaborative arrangements for achieving NPS objectives and protect and respect the rights of private landowners.
The National Park Service study is just the latest move by Hinchey to bring funding and designations to the region. In the mid-1990s, Hinchey joined George Pataki, then a New York State Senator, in authoring the legislation that created the Hudson River Valley Greenway, and about a decade ago, Hinchey authored legislation that led to the designation of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area. The Heritage Area designation provides technical assistance to local communities and local historic sites in managing natural and historic resources of national importance.