U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman today introduced legislation that would designate Manhattan Project sites around the country as a National Historical Park. U.S. Senator Tom Udall is a cosponsor.
The legislation stems from the findings of a report prepared by the National Park Service and the Department of Energy that says the best way to preserve and interpret the Manhattan Project is for Congress to establish a national historical park at the three sites where much of the critical scientific activity associated with the project occurred: Los Alamos, Oak Ridge (TN) and Hanford (WA). Bingaman wrote the Senate legislation that called for the National Park Service/DOE study, while Udall was a cosponsor of the legislation as a member of the House of Representatives.
"The Manhattan Project was a difficult yet historically significant part of our nation's history. Establishing a National Historic Park will help us better understand the legacy the Manhattan Project left behind," Bingaman said.
"The Manhattan Project and the founding scientific community of Los Alamos forever changed the world," said Udall. "What transpired in the Jemez Mountain range marked a powerful and emotional turning point in history that a National Park would help generations of people to better understand."
Operating from December 1942 until September 1945, the Manhattan Project was a $2.2 billion effort that employed 130,000 workers at its peak, but was kept largely secret and out of public view.
"Providing visitors with opportunities to form their own intellectual and emotional connections with the significance of sites to be included in the Manhattan Project National Historical Park helps them understand its relevance to our shared national heritage," Bingaman said. "There is no better place to understand history than where it happened, and that's what national parks and the National Park Service do best."
The bill was sent to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which Bingaman chairs. Other co-sponsors of the bill include Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA). In the House of Representatives, Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) announced today that he will introduce a similar bill when the House returns to session next week.