Mr. JOHNSON of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 1022) to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study of alternatives for commemorating and interpreting the role of the Buffalo Soldiers in the early years of the National Parks, and for other purposes.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
The text of the bill is as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act''.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.
(a) Findings.--The Congress finds the following:
(1) In the late 19th century and early 20th century, African-American troops who came to be known as the Buffalo Soldiers served in many critical roles in the western United States, including protecting some of the first National Parks.
(2) Based at the Presidio in San Francisco, Buffalo Soldiers were assigned to Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks where they patrolled the backcountry, built trails, stopped poaching, and otherwise served in the roles later assumed by National Park rangers.
(3) The public would benefit from having opportunities to learn more about the Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks and their contributions to the management of National Parks and the legacy of African-Americans in the post-Civil War era.
(4) As the centennial of the National Park Service in 2016 approaches, it is an especially appropriate time to conduct research and increase public awareness of the stewardship role the Buffalo Soldiers played in the early years of the National Parks.
(b) Purpose.--The purpose of this Act is to authorize a study to determine the most effective ways to increase understanding and public awareness of the critical role that the Buffalo Soldiers played in the early years of the National Parks.
SEC. 3. STUDY.
(a) In General.--The Secretary of the Interior shall conduct a study of alternatives for commemorating and interpreting the role of the Buffalo Soldiers in the early years of the National Parks.
(b) Contents of Study.--The study shall include--
(1) a historical assessment, based on extensive research, of the Buffalo Soldiers who served in National Parks in the years prior to the establishment of the National Park Service;
(2) an evaluation of the suitability and feasibility of establishing a national historic trail commemorating the route traveled by the Buffalo Soldiers from their post in the Presidio of San Francisco to Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks and to any other National Parks where they may have served;
(3) the identification of properties that could meet criteria for listing in the National Register of Historic Places or criteria for designation as National Historic Landmarks;
(4) an evaluation of appropriate ways to enhance historical research, education, interpretation, and public awareness of the story of the Buffalo Soldiers' stewardship role in the National Parks, including ways to link the story to the development of National Parks and the story of African-American military service following the Civil War; and
(5) any other matters that the Secretary of the Interior deems appropriate for this study.
(c) Report.--Not later than 3 years after funds are made available for the study, the Secretary of the Interior shall submit to the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate a report containing the study's findings and recommendations.
Mr. JOHNSON of Ohio. I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous materials on the bill under consideration.
Mr. JOHNSON of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
H.R. 1022 authorizes the National Park Service to study alternatives for commemorating and interpreting the role of the Buffalo Soldiers in the early years of the national parks.
The Buffalo Soldiers were a segregated Army unit composed of African American cavalrymen. For nearly 25 years before the creation of the National Park Service, Yosemite National Park was administered by the U.S. Army. The Buffalo Soldiers played a key role protecting those park resources that have since been enjoyed by millions of Americans. Their success will be examined by this study that will focus on existing resources inside current national parks.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. SABLAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
H.R. 1022 would direct the Secretary of the Interior to study ways the National Park Service could commemorate the role of Buffalo Soldiers.
Buffalo Soldiers were African American troops who served in the first national parks, including Yosemite and Sequoia National Park, prior to the establishment of the National Park Service.
The legislation, sponsored by Congresswoman Speier of California, was considered by the Committee on Natural Resources in May. I commend my colleague, Congresswoman Speier, for introducing this legislation and for her leadership on this issue. We strongly support this legislation.
I reserve the balance of my time.