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VIDEO: Blunt Highlights Bill to Enhance Visitor Experience at Missouri National Park Service Sites

February 07, 2019

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) spoke in support of the Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47), which is currently being considered by the Senate. The legislation includes provisions to enhance the visitor experience at the Harry S Truman National Historic Site and the Ste. Genevieve National Historic Park. In March 2018, Blunt’s legislation to establish the Ste. Genevieve National Historic Park and designate it as a unit of the National Park Service was signed into law.

S. 47 also includes measures to expand hunting and fishing access, protect natural resources, and improve public lands.

Following are Excerpts from Blunt’s Remarks:

“This is a bill that, for sportsmen and for those interested in public lands, is going to have a big impact. It has big benefits for our country and big benefits for my state of Missouri. This package includes a number of important provisions to expand hunting and fishing access, something that I think every Congress for a handful of Congresses now has tried to do and failed to do. It has provisions to protect natural resources and provisions to improve public lands. In my state of Missouri, we have more than 1.2 million hunters and fishermen. They spend about $1.67 billion annually and support almost 30,000 jobs in our state. For the first time, this bill makes it clear in statute that all Bureau of Public Land Management and National Forest System lands will be open to hunting, to recreational shooting, and fishing unless they're explicitly closed. … This creates an opportunity for people who want to use public lands for those purposes to be able to do so, unless those responsible for managing those lands can make a real case that they shouldn't be able to do so.

“This bill includes important provisions that will improve the visitor experiences in two of our Missouri National Park units. One is the provision that would really enhance the opportunities to learn more about the personal life of the nation's 33rd President, Harry Truman. I'm standing here today behind the desk I use every day, which was also a desk that Senator Truman used, President Truman used when he was in the Senate. So particularly the lessons that can be learned from his life at the Harry Truman National Historic Site. It was first dedicated in May of 1983. It preserves the history of a person that sometimes has been called the ‘People's President’, the president that, when he was retiring and the press asked him what's the first thing you're going to do when you get home, he thought for only a minute and he said, ‘I guess the first thing I'll do will be to take the suitcases to the attic.’ A guy who had not lost in seven and a half years of being president, had not lost the sense of the kinds of commonsense things that real people deal with. But his story is really well told at his family home in Independence, and it's a site that includes not only the home that he and his wife, Bess, shared through their entire marriage from 1919 until his death in 1972 but also some adjacent family properties and some nearby properties of Truman's farm home, the home he grew up in in Grandview, Missouri. …

“There's another provision that would enhance the visitor access to Ste. Genevieve, the newest historic park in Missouri…This is something we did last year, transitioning some property to the National Park System from the state park system. Ste. Genevieve, on the banks of the Mississippi River, was established in the 1750's by French settlers who were attracted to the area because of the water access to the rich soil, to the ability to make a living there. In fact, the historic park encompasses what was called the common field in the Mississippi River Valley where citizens would own or be allocated a plot in that field and would farm in that plot, not part of the settlement community itself but in the river bottom, which meant that for flood reasons you wouldn't want to build a house there, but you could grow some of the most incredible crops that could be grown then or now. In fact, the common field in Ste. Genevieve is recognized as the oldest, continuously farmed piece of land west of the Mississippi River. Ste. Genevieve had been governed by the French and then the British and then the Spanish and then the United States in its history as it came into the United States as part of a territory with the Louisiana Purchase. The imprint of each of those countries is still in evidence in that community today. That's partly thanks to the state of Missouri. Thanks to dedicated historic preservation groups, including the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, the Foundation for Restoration of Ste. Genevieve, Les Amis, and the Ste. Genevieve Chamber of Commerce have all worked hard to recognize the unique architecture they have there, some of which dates back to the late-18th century, more dates back to the years right after the turn of the 19th century, in the very early 1800's, and this bill would allow significant things to happen in that park, including acquiring a standing visitor center that wouldn't happen otherwise.

“The bill also, Mr. President, permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Many of those hunters and fishermen that I mentioned earlier are appropriately big advocates of this Land and Water Conservation Fund that allows property to be available to him and to be preserved through this fund in a status that doesn't allow it to be developed but still available to hunters, fishermen, bird watchers, outdoor enthusiasts. That fund is largely funded from the federal receipts from the offshore oil and gas leases. In 2018, $487 million was appropriated by the Congress to continue to maintain and enhance that fund. It supports federal and state land acquisition. It supports planning grants. It supports outdoor recreational programs. That's been a program that for a long time now the federal government has periodically extended. This is the first time that it would be permanently authorized.”

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