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Public Statements

Conservation and Economic Growth Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CANSECO. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the chairman, Mr. Hastings, the park subcommittee chairman, Mr. Bishop, and the staff of the Natural Resources Committee for working with me to move my legislation, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park Boundary Expansion Act, through the committee and have it included as part of the bill before us.

Would the chairman enter into a brief colloquy with me?

Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Yes.

Mr. CANSECO. Is it the chairman's understanding that, after adoption of the manager's amendment, the bill contains reforms that would only allow for lands to come into the park via donation or exchange, and that these reforms apply only to the land coming into the park boundary as a result of the legislation before us?

Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. The gentleman is correct, with the adoption of the manager's amendment.

Mr. CANSECO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I'm pleased to rise in support of the underlying legislation which contains my legislation, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park Boundary Expansion Act, which I introduced with the entire Bexar County, Texas delegation.

In efforts to settle North America, the English founded Jamestown, Plymouth Rock, and other colonial settlements that schoolchildren learn about in U.S. history classes. The Spanish took a very different approach in their efforts to settle their possessions in North America. Instead of sending ships full of families to found new towns, the Spanish sent Franciscan priests to establish missions. At the missions, the Spanish priests would bring local Native Americans to live at the mission, teach them farming, educate them, and ultimately convert them to Christianity.

The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is an important asset to the community in San Antonio, Texas, and one of our Nation's historic treasures. The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is comprised of four mission churches: Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose, Mission San Juan, and Mission Espada.

Adjusting the boundaries of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park is absolutely critical to protecting these treasures and allowing the park to continue thriving and further enhance the visitors' experience. It is also a critical part of the redevelopment taking place on the south side of San Antonio.

A recent study found that the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park supported over 1,000 local jobs and almost $100 million in economic activity. This boundary adjustment will help reconnect the missions to the San Antonio River, where the Mission Reach Project is taking place to extend to the south side the economic prosperity and job opportunities enjoyed in other parts of San Antonio. Such redevelopment will allow for significant job and economic opportunities that currently do not exist in parts of San Antonio.

The San Antonio missions are important to the Nation in that they help visitors understand the history of our Nation, its diverse origins, as well as the history of San Antonio and the history of Texas. I would also add that the four missions that comprise the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park are still functioning parish churches, continuing to fulfill the role in the San Antonio community for which they were founded almost 300 years ago.

The San Antonio missions are just as important to understanding the story and the history of America as other historic places like Jamestown, Independence Hall, or Mount Vernon, and this legislation will help protect and preserve them for future generations of Americans to enjoy, all the while helping to create jobs and economic opportunity on the south side of San Antonio.


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