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National Park Advisory Committees Hanging In Limbo

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The work of dozens of national park advisory committees, which weigh in on everything from how the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historical Trail is managed, to one that considers off-road vehicle use at Big Cypress National Preserve, have been suspended indefinitely/NPS photo of Powhatan Village at Jamestown

Across the National Park System, there more than 30 advisory committees made up of individuals who weigh in on how individual parks are managed. Earlier this year, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke suspended the meetings of all these committees until their value could be evaluated. When they'll be able to get back to work is unknown.

Media reports have quoted the secretary as saying he wanted parks to justify the existence of their advisory committees. Back in May, shortly after the secretary suspended those committees, along with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's "resource advisory councils," Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift said the review was needed for "restoring trust in the Department's decision-making."

Across the National Park System, these advisory committees weigh in on topics as diverse as off-road vehicle use at Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida, development of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail in the Chesapeake Bay and connecting rivers, management plans for Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania, and even management of National Park of American Samoa.

In recent days there's been confusion over when these boards will meet again, with Park Service staff across the country first being told that the review of the committees had concluded and that meetings could be rescheduled, and then little more than an hour later being told that the suspension was still in place as the review had not been completed.

Ms. Swift did not respond to Traveler emails seeking insights on the review process or when it might be concluded, and National Park Service chief spokesman Thomas Crosson referred questions to Ms. Swift. Requested copies of individual park's justifications for their advisory committee also were not forthcoming, and a question as to how much money the Park Service spends on these committees went unanswered.

While these committees have been suspended, Secretary Zinke has stated a desire to create a committee that would provide advice on how to improve recreational access and infrastructure on public lands.

Current NPS Advisory Committees and Councils

Acadia National Park Advisory Commission

The Commission provides advice about the management and development of Acadia National Park, including

  • acquisition of land and interests in lands (including conservation easements on islands), and
  • termination of use and occupancy rights

Authorization: Section 103 of Public Law 99-420, September 25, 1986, as amended by Public Law 110-229 (Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008), May 8, 2008

Charter: sunset date September 25, 2026

Big Cypress National Preserve Off-Road Vehicle Advisory Committee

The Committee examines issues and makes recommendations about the management of off-road vehicles in Big Cypress National Preserve.

Authorization: Secretary of the Interior's discretionary authority under Public Law 91-383, section 3

Charter: sunset date October 16, 2017

Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area Advisory Council

The Council represents various groups with interests in the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. It makes recommendations to the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership about the development and implementation of the national recreation area's integrated resources management plan.

Authorization: Public Law 104-333, November 12, 1996

Charter: The Council is expected to continue as long as the Partnership remains in existence, or until terminated by act of Congress

Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission

The Commission consults on matters relating to development of Cape Cod National Seashore and to carrying out specific provisions of the park's enabling legislation. The Commission also provides advice before

  • permits are issued for industrial or commercial use of property within the seashore;
  • establishment of any public use area for recreational activity within the seashore; and
  • any proposed action which would create a substantive change in natural conditions or in existing structures within the seashore.

Authorization: Public Law 87-126, August 7, 1961; as amended by Public Law 105-280

Charter: sunset date September 26, 2018

Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail Advisory Council

The advisory council consults with the Secretary of the Interior about the development of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail and other trail matters. The council had an active role in creation of the trail's management plan, and assisted the NPS in identifying significant resources and other sites of interest along the 3,000 miles of the trail.

Authorization: National Trails System Act, as amended, (16 USC 1241-1251) and Title 1, section 133 of Public Law 109-418, December 21, 2006

Charter: sunset date May 21, 2018

Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park Advisory Commission

The Commission provides advice on the preparation and implementation of the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park general management plan and identification of significant sites outside the park boundary deemed necessary to fulfill the purposes of the enabling legislation.

Authorization: Public Law 107-373, December 19, 2002

Charter: the Commission does not have a statutory termination date; it is expected to continue into the foreseeable future

Cold War Advisory Committee

The Committee will assist with preparation of a national historic landmark theme study to identify significant Cold War sites and resources.

Authorization: Public Law 111-11, (Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009), March 30, 2009

Charter: sunset date December 12, 2016

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Commission

The Commission consults on general policies and specific matters related to the administration and development of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.

Authorization: Public Law 91-664, January 8, 1971, as amended by Public Law 101-320, July 3, 1990, and Public Law 113-178, November 26, 2014

Charter: sunset date September 26, 2024

Coltsville National Historical Park Advisory Commission

When established, the Commission will advise on the development and implementation of the park's management plan.

Authorization: Public Law 113-291 (16 USC 410qqq), December 19, 2014

Charter: sunset date December 19, 2024 unless extended by Secretary of the Interior

Committee for the Preservation of the White House

The Committee reports to the President of the United States and advises the NPS about the maintenance of the White House as a public monument. The Committee makes recommendations about furnishings and fixtures for the public rooms best suited to enhance the White House's historic and artistic values.

Authorization: Executive Order 11145, March 7, 1964, as amended

Charter: the Committee is renewed every two years and is expected to continue for the foreseeable future

Flight 93 Advisory Commission

The Commission made recommendations on the design of a permanent memorial to the passengers and crew of Flight 93 and the park's management plan.

Authorization: Flight 93 National Memorial Act Public Law 107-226 (54 USC 320301), September 24, 2002

Charter: the Commission will terminate upon dedication of the completed memorial

Gateway National Recreation Area Fort Hancock 21st Century Advisory Commission

The Commission provides advice on the development of a reuse plan for future uses of the Fort Hancock Historic District of Gateway National Recreation Area.

Authorization: Secretary of the Interior's discretionary authority under 54 USC 100906

Charter: the Commission is expected to exist for the foreseeable future

Gettysburg National Military Park Advisory Commission

The Commission advises on coordination with local government jurisdictions about the management of the Gettysburg National Park and Gettysburg Battlefield Historic District.

Authorization: Public Law 101-377, section 5, August 17, 1990

Charter: the Commission is expected to exist for the foreseeable future

Jimmy Carter National Historic Site Advisory Commission

The Commission provides advice on achieving balanced and accurate interpretation of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site.

Authorization: Public Law 100-206, December 23, 1987

Charter: the Commission is expected to exist for the foreseeable future

Kalaupapa National Historical Park Advisory Commission

The Commission provides advice about park development, operations, and public visitation. The Commission's advice about numbers of visitors is binding, if the commission has certified the advice is based on a referendum of all patients on the official Kalaupapa Registry.

Authorization: Public Law 96-565, December 22, 1980, as amended, through Public Law 109-54, section 128, August 2, 2005

Charter: sunset date December 22, 2025

Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site Advisory Commission

The Commission will participate in the development of the historic site's General Management Plan, and will consult about the management and development of the historic site.

Authorization: Public Law 102-211, December 11, 1991

Charter: the Commission is expected to exist for the foreseeable future

Na Hoa Pili O Kaloko-Honokohau Advisory Commission (The Friends of Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park)

The Commission provides advice about Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park's historical, archeological, cultural, and interpretive programs, with particular emphasis on the quality of traditional native Hawaiian culture demonstrations.

Authorization: Public Law 95-625, as amended, November 10, 1978 (Public Law 104-333, November 12, 1996)

Charter: sunset date December 31, 2018

National Park of American Samoa Advisory Board

The Board advises about the management of the National Park of American Samoa.

Authorization: Public Law 100-571, October 21, 1988

Charter: the Board is expected to exist into the foreseeable future

National Park Service Subsistence Resource Commissions

Subsistence resource commissions (SRC) have been established for seven national parks and monuments in Alaska. Local participants are involved in the planning and management decisions about subsistence hunting in seven national parks in Alaska.

Authorization: Public Law 96-487, December 2, 1980

Charters: the commissions do not have termination dates; due to their objectives, scope, and purposes, they are expected to continue well into the future

Aniakchak National Monument & Preserve / SRC Charter

Cape Krusenstern National Monument / SRC Charter

Denali National Park & Preserve / SRC Charter

Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve / SRC Charter

Kobuk Valley National Park / SRC Charter

Lake Clark National Park & Preserve / SRC Charter

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve / SRC Charter

National Park System Advisory Board

The board provides advice and recommendations about matters relating to the NPS; the National Park System; and programs administered by the NPS, including administration of the Historic Sites, Buildings and Antiquities Act; designation of national historic landmarks and national natural landmarks; and national significance of proposed national historic trails.

Authorization: statutory authorization from August 21, 1935 to November 1, 2010 (54 USC 102303). The Board currently operates under the Secretary of the Interior’s discretionary authority (54 USC 100906).

Charter: sunset date December 30, 2017

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee

The committee monitors and reviews implementation of the inventory and identification processes and repatriation activities required under sections 5, 6, and 7 of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).

Authorization: Public Law 101-601, November 16, 1990 (25 USC 3006a-I)

Charter: the committee is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. The committee will terminate 120 days after the Secretary certifies in a report to Congress that it has completed its work.

Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park Advisory Commission

The commission provides advice on the development and implementation of the management plan for Patterson Great Falls National Historical Park.

Authorization: Public Law 111-11 (Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009), March 30, 2009

Charter: sunset date March 30, 2019

Preservation Technology and Training Board

The board provides leadership, policy advice, and professional oversight to the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, located at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The Board advises the Secretary of the Interior on priorities and the allocation of grants and submits an annual report to the President and Congress.

Authorization: Public Law 102-575, October 30,1992 (54 USC 305303)

Charter: the Board is expected to continue as long as the center remains in existence, or until terminated by act of Congress

Star Spangled Banner National Historical Trail Advisory Council

The council consults on matters relating to the Star-Spangled Banner National Historical Trail and assists the NPS in its development and implementation, identifying significant trail resources, and other matters.

Authorization: National Trails System Act, as amended through Public Law 111-11 (16 USC 1241-1251), March 30, 2009

Charter: sunset date April 11, 2021

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve Advisory Committee

The committee advises the NPS on the development, management, and interpretation of the preserve, particularly during preparation of the general management plan.

Authorization: Public Law 104-333 (Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Management Act of 1996), November 12, 1996

Charter: the committee does not have a statutory termination date

Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument Advisory Council

The committee provides advice about preparation and implementation of the management plan for Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument.

Authorization: Public Law 113-291 (54 USC 320301), December 19, 2014

Charter: the committee does not have a statutory termination date

Wekiva River System Advisory Management Committee

The committee assists in the development of the comprehensive management plan for the Wekiva River System and provides advice to the Department of the Interior and the NPS in carrying out their management responsibilities under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

Authorization: Secretary of the Interior's authority under Public Law 106-299, section 5, October 13, 2000

Charter: the committee will continue concurrent with the Wekiva River's designation as a National Wild and Scenic River

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