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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Location: Washington DC

Oct. 6, 2004


Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, today I rise in support of the Delaware National Coastal Special Resources Study Act and join my colleague, Senator Carper, in asking this body to support our efforts to construct the Delaware National Coastal Heritage Park. Delaware is the only State not to have a national park and we feel strongly that the time has come. Today, through this legislation, we are asking the Secretary of the Interior to study the feasibility of establishing a National Park Service unit in the State of Delaware.

As I stand before you, I know what most of you are thinking. Do we have an area worthy of such designation? Do we have picturesque mountains like the Grand Tetons or the Great Smokey Mountains? Are people drawn to our coasts to find the spirituality of JoshuaTree? Do we possess landscape on par with the beauty and serenity of Acadia National Park? Well, in a word, yes. A little of all of the magnificence found in some of our Nation's most famous parks can be found in our State of Delaware and that is why the proposal presented by Senator Carper is so unique and worthy of the next step.

I have to commend my colleague. Senator Carper brought together a committee of dedicated Delawareans to analyze the validity of a national park in the State of Delaware. After much deliberation, the committee suggested a series of four interpretive centers, scattered throughout the state, to highlight the many treasures of our state. While there are numerous sites identified in the proposal, I would just like to take a moment to speak to several that have been especially close to me in my years in the Senate.

Pea Patch Island is a 228-acre park located off the coast of Delaware City, Delaware that houses Fort Delaware, one of our country's oldest Civil War-era fortifications and Delaware's oldest State Park. The island, with its fort, seawall and other archeological remains, is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The island also houses a State nature preserve, providing critical habitat to thousands of wading birds. It is also the largest heronry north of Florida.

Delaware also played a special role in the Underground Railroad and the proposal will highlight the 18 sites in Delaware including a hideout at the Governor's mansion, the court house where abolitionist Thomas Garrett was tried, the Mother African Church in Wilmington where an African American Festival founded in 1814 was used as a cover to help slaves escape is still celebrated, and numerous other sites utilized by the principal Underground Railroad conductor, Harriet Tubman.

Finally, I would like to mention our coastline, our beaches. Now into October, we have said goodbye to another fantastic beach season with millions of people visiting our shores. The historic sites and wildlife refuges that dot our coastline are unique to the area and to the Nation.

These links to Delaware's past are important to our Nation's future and I am proud to join my colleague in supporting this legislation.

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