OAK RIDGE (WATE) – After more than a decade of planning the Department of Energy and National Park Service, in cooperation with other federal agencies are moving through with plans for the park. Government officials are now asking for input on the park.
Senior Government Officials traveled to the three locations for the park in Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, New Mexico and Hanford, Washington. They then created a draft of their agreement to establish the park and to outline how the park service and the Department of Energy would work together to preserve, protect and provide access to historic resources associated with the Manhattan Project.
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The current version of the draft would create a site manager for each location that would coordinate with the community and report to a superintendent of all three parks located at the park service’s central office. The proposal said the park service would like to grow all three park locations at the same rate.
The park service said they are collecting comments on the draft of the memorandum from July 28 to August 28. Comments may be submitted online or mailed to:
NPS Denver Service Center
Attn: Tracy Atkins
Project Manager Manhattan Project National Historical Park
P.O. Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287
After the comments are reviewed, the Memorandum of Agreement will be finalized and signed by the Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Energy. The agreement must e finalized by December 19, 2015. Once that document is signed, the park will officially become part of the National Park System.
The making of a national park
The National Park Service is working with the Department of Energy since they own and manage the Federal properties at most of the major Manhattan Project sites. In 2011, a panel of distinguished historic preservation experts met to discuss making the sites a national park.
In 2004, Congress passed the Manhattan Project national Historical Park Study Act, which directed the Secretary of the interior to conduct a special study of the sites and their communities as well as decide if incorporating the sites into the National Park System was feasible.
In March of 2006 the National Park Service started preparing an Environmental Impact Statement. They held public meetings in Oak Ridge ,Hanfor and Los Alamos. Eight different sites were studied as locations for the new national park in May of 2007.
In early 2011, it was decided the park would be located at three units in Hanford, Oak Ridge and Los Alamos. It was also decided the the Department of energy would continue to own and manage the properties and control access to the sites. The National park Service would coordinate the visitors centers with a small numbers of rangers at each site.
In July 2011, the Secretary of the Interior issued a letter to Congress recommended the Manhattan Project National Historic Park partnership. Congress held hearings in both houses, but failed to pass a bill authorizing the park.
On December 4, 2014, the House passed the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes provision for the project. THe Senate passed a companion bill on December 12, 2014 and President Barrack Obama signed the act into law on December 19, 2014.