Washington DC- U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today urged the new Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, to protect national parks and wildlife in Pennsylvania and across the Nation. The National Park Service oversees Gettysburg Battlefield, three National Wildlife Refuges, and six National Heritage Areas in the Commonwealth, among other sites.
In his letter, Senator Casey noted the important economic and cultural contributions directly connected to federally recognized areas in Pennsylvania, including the state’s National Wildlife Refuges and Heritage Areas.
“In Pennsylvania, outdoor recreation generates $21.5 billion in consumer spending, according to the Outdoor Industry Association,” wrote Senator Casey. “Much of this economic activity is connected to visits to National Park Service sites. It is very important to me that the Interior Department continue to make smart decisions designed to create and support jobs.”
Pennsylvania is home to three National Wild Life Refuges: the Erie National Wildlife Refuge, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge (Philadelphia), and the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge (Leigh Valley). The state is also home to six National Heritage Areas: Oil Region NHA, Rivers of Steel NHA, Path of Progress NHA, Lackawanna Valley NHA, Delaware & Lehigh NHA and Schuylkill River Valley NHA.
Below is the full text of Senator Casey’s letter:
The Honorable Sally Jewell
United States Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20240
Dear Secretary Jewell:
Congratulations on your confirmation to the position of Secretary of the Department of the Interior by the United States Senate. As you take on the important responsibility of overseeing the Department of the Interior, I want to highlight a few ways in which the Interior Department plays an important role in the lives of Pennsylvanians.
First, in advance of a nationally historic occasion quickly approaching, I want to call your attention to the fact that November 19, 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery and President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. I have requested that President Obama participate in the commemoration at Gettysburg National Military Park and I encourage you to participate in the event. Gettysburg National Military Park is an American treasure. It would mean a great deal to the Nation for the President and the Interior Secretary to stand on that hallowed ground on this significant day in our country’s history.
I also want to let you know about legislation which I recently reintroduced regarding Gettysburg National Military Park. Aimed at maintaining important aspects of the Gettysburg experience for future generations, the Gettysburg National Military Park Expansion Act would include in the Park two historically significant properties, the Gettysburg Railroad Station and a forty-five acre property at the southern end of Gettysburg battlefield in a fiscally responsible way. Your Department has previously testified in support of this legislation and I request that the Interior Depart continue this support under your leadership.
Each year, general outdoor recreation contributes $646 billion to the economy and supports 6.1 million jobs. In Pennsylvania, outdoor recreation generates $21.5 billion in consumer spending, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. Much of this economic activity is connected to visits to National Park Service sites. It is very important to me that the Interior Department continue to make smart decisions designed to create and support jobs. As the National Park Service Director said in Policy Memorandum 12-01, “National Heritage Areas are places where small investments pay huge dividends.” I support our National Heritage Areas and ask that you join me in this support.
Pennsylvania is home to three National Wildlife Refuges, the Erie National Wildlife Refuge, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge and the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The President included $4,300,000 in funding in his budget to purchase from willing landowners 3,129 acres at Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge. I thank the Interior Department for recognizing the economic importance of the National Wildlife Refuges Pennsylvania.
Of course, the Department of Interior has a much larger role in the Commonwealth than was captured in this letter. I look forward to working with you in the future on the issues featured in this letter and all those of importance to Pennsylvania.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator