In 2019, as part of the “John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act“, Congress directed the National Park Service to conduct a Special Resource Study to determine whether Amache meets the criteria to become a new unit of the National Park System.
This study will determine whether Amache qualifies for such a designation.
Even if Amache qualifies, Congress will still need to pass legislation before Amache can actually become a new NPS unit. However, a positive finding from a Special Resource Study is a necessary first step.
The Special Resource Study has four criteria that must be met:
- National Significance: Does the site contain nationally significant natural and/or cultural resources?
- Suitability: Does the site represent a natural or cultural resource that is not already adequately represented in the national park system or is not comparably represented and protected for public enjoyment by another land-managing entity?
- Feasibility: Is the site (1) of sufficient size and appropriate configuration to ensure long-term protection of the resources and visitor enjoyment, and (2) capable of efficient administration by the National Park Service at a reasonable cost; important feasibility factors include landownership, acquisition costs, life cycle maintenance costs, access, threats to the resource, and staff or development requirements?
- Need for NPS Management: Is direct NPS management required as clearly superior to management by other agencies or the private sector (e.g., continued management in perpetuity by Amache Preservation Society)?
If Amache is judged to be a site that only replicates the history of incarceration as already represented by other sites, it will not qualify.
The public comment period was open from February 6, 2020 through June 30, 2021. Public comments are now being analyzed and feasibility is being studied.
AHSII created a special newsletter with more detailed information about how Amache may meet the criteria and the types of information helpful for public comments. They also held a virtual preparation session to review the four criteria for Amache to qualify as a new NPS site and how to make sure your comments address those criteria and are most impactful. You can watch a recording of the presentation or view the slides.
While the public comment period for the study is now closed, this type of information may still be helpful as you craft any letters of support for the Amache National Historic Site Act bills that have been introduced in the House and Senate. Visit https://amache.org/current-activity-news/ to learn more about the bills.