Today, U.S. Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI), the House sponsor of legislation to establish a National Historical Park in the Blackstone River Valley, along with co-sponsors Richard E. Neal (D-MA), James McGovern (D-MA), and James Langevin (D-RI), thanked the Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Ken Salazar, for officially transmitting the Blackstone River Valley Special Resource Study to Congress.
"This action represents the culmination of several years of evaluation, research, public input, and review, and we applaud Secretary Salazar and the Department of the Interior for taking this important step toward including the Blackstone River Valley in the National Parks System," said Cicilline. "I am proud to continue fighting to preserve the environmental, historical, and economic importance of this region -- the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution -- an undertaking that will help create jobs, promote local economies, and ensure that this area remains accessible to future generations."
"I believe Secretary Salazar's actions last week helped improve our efforts to create a new National Park in the Blackstone River Valley. During a visit to Lookout Rock last October, I pledged my support for this important bi-partisan initiative. The region is a historic and special place that deserves this critical recognition. I will continue to work with Congressman Cicilline to ensure that a National Historic Park is created within the corridor's boundaries," said Congressman Richard E. Neal.
"This is good news for our efforts to get the Blackstone Valley the recognition it deserves," Rep. McGovern said. "I want to thank Secretary Salazar for his work on this issue, and I commend my colleague Congressman Cicilline for his leadership."
"Secretary Salazar's letter sets an important blueprint to guide the establishment of a national park in the Blackstone Valley and to gain the cultural, economic and environmental benefits that this designation will bring to our state and region," said Langevin. "This is a vital part of the process to reach our ultimate goals of preserving historical sites that shaped our nation and encouraging more Americans from across the country to visit the area."
In a letter sent last week to Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA), the Ranking Minority Member on the House Committee on National Resources, Secretary Salazar identified the most effective and efficient management option for establishing and operating a Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park. Following the official transmittal of the Special Resource Study to Congress, Representatives Cicilline, Neal, McGovern, and Langevin requested a legislative hearing on H.R. 3191 and will continue their efforts to advance the Act through the House of Representatives.
Spanning from Worcester, MA to Providence, RI, the Blackstone River Valley is the Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. The Valley's beauty and history embodies a landscape rich in natural, historic, and cultural treasures. If enacted, the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park Establishment Act would help preserve these icons of industry, environment, and history for generations to come.
Established by Congress in November 1986, the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor now includes all or part of twenty-four communities extending from Worcester, MA to Providence, RI. The Corridor contains approximately 400,000 acres of land in total. In July of this year, the National Park Service released a Special Resource Study for the purpose of determining whether the resources evaluated in the Heritage Corridor meet the criteria for inclusion as a unit of the National Park System. The study was completed following extensive input from local stakeholders, the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission, National Park Service staff, and historians.
Companion legislation has also been introduced in the Senate by U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), John Kerry (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Scott Brown (R-MA).