Today Jaime Herrera Beutler introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would transfer Pearson Air Museum and the surrounding seven acres of land from National Park Service control to the City of Vancouver. The bill would allow the City of Vancouver to restore its partnership with the Ft. Vancouver National Trust, and once again make Pearson Air Museum fully accessible and open to the local community.
"For years, Fort Vancouver was the shining example of a local community benefitting from a successful public-private management," said Jaime. "Forcing this change through congressional action was not my first choice. I am still hopeful that the National Park Service will work out a solution with the City and the Trust, and I will continue to do whatever I can to facilitate a compromise. However, if compromise fails, the Park Service needs to know a legislative fix is moving forward."
The bill uses a "land conveyance" procedure to permanently transfer control of seven acres of land recognized as the Pearson Air Museum Complex from the National Park Service to the City of Vancouver.
An agreement was passed by Congress in 1995 that established the Park Service as a managing partner of Ft. Vancouver, intending the federal agency work with the City of Vancouver and Ft. Vancouver National Trust. Since that time, event revenues, public tax dollars, and private contributions raised by the Trust have developed and maintained the Pearson Air Museum complex as an available community venue. However, in recent months, the National Park Service has increasingly limited the community's access to this popular venue. In 2012, the federal agency denied use of Ft. Vancouver to an all-church picnic and youth soccer fair, and severely restricted a community concert to benefit military veterans.
In May of 2012, Jaime Herrera Beutler got involved in the management dispute between the Park Service, the City of Vancouver and the Trust to help restore the community's ability to use the venue. Despite Jaime's letters and meetings to cultivate a cooperative, local solution, the Park Service terminated the cooperative management agreement -- resulting in an empty Pearson Air Museum and strong community opposition.