May 14, 2019
The Honorable Lisa Murkowski, Chairman, Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations
The Honorable Tom Udall, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate, Washington, D.C.
Dear Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Udall:
As organizations dedicated to the protection and preservation of the historic and cultural resources of our nation including but not limited to World Heritage Sites, we write in support of the United States’ engagement in the World Heritage Program. We urge you to appropriate $1.926 million for the National Park Service’s International Park Affairs including at least $1.25 million for the Office of International Affairs (OIA) to ensure our robust involvement with the program and to support many United States communities and sites seeking nomination to the World Heritage List. We also urge Congress to reject the Administration’s proposal to drastically reduce overall program funding for International Park Affairs while also shifting the Southwest Border Resource Protection Program into OIA. For the past three fiscal years, Congress has consistently appropriated $1.648 million for International Park Affairs, including $942,000 for the OIA. We believe that a modest increase to $1.926 million for International Park Affairs including at least $1.25 million for the Office of International Affairs is appropriate and merited.
The United States led the creation of the World Heritage Program in 1972 and was the first to ratify the Convention in 1973. Two of our national parks—Yellowstone National Park and Mesa Verde National Park—were among the first dozen sites inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978. Today, just 23 out of the 1,092 sites inscribed on the World Heritage List are in the United States, of which 18 are managed by the National Park Service (NPS). Many more sites of cultural and natural importance remain on the U.S. World Heritage Tentative List, and still others are eligible for nomination.
The Office of International Affairs within the NPS works to support protection and enhancement of parks around the world, responds to issues relating to existing World Heritage Sites, and selects eligible sites for the World Heritage Tentative List and shepherds them through the detailed nomination process. Inadequate funding hinders OIA’s ability to support the increasing numbers of communities in the United States who seek nominations to the World Heritage List despite the considerable effort and financial expenditure required. Significant sites such as the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks in Ohio; Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings in Arizona, California, Illinois, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin; and Civil Rights Movement Sites in Alabama remain on the U.S. World Heritage Tentative List. Inclusion on the World Heritage List brings communities and sites substantial cultural, economic, and social benefits. Increased funding for OIA would enable more American sites with international significance to be added to the World Heritage List.
The recent tragic fire at the Notre-Dame de Paris, also a World Heritage Site, reminds all of us of the importance of our collective history—and the need to safeguard and honor it. The severe damage to Notre Dame rouses us to protect other irreplaceable places that tell our human story. We must preserve these sites now so that they may remain for future generations.
We believe that it is of critical importance for the United States to remain robustly engaged in and supportive of the World Heritage Program. We urge you to provide funds to both support nominations of American sites to the World Heritage List and to demonstrate engagement in the important work of ensuring global peace through the mutual respect of heritage of outstanding universal value worldwide.
We greatly appreciate the strong support Congress has shown for the preservation of our nation’s heritage. We look forward to working with you through the appropriations process and thank you for your consideration.
For questions, please contact:
Destry Jarvis, Advocacy Chair, US/ICOMOS
Tom Cassidy, Vice President, Government Relations, National Trust for Historic Preservation
US/ICOMOS (US National Committee for the International Council on Monuments and Sites)
National Trust for Historic Preservation
National Parks Conservation Association
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
The Coalition for American Heritage
National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers
Ohio History Connection