ON JUST RELEASED LEGISLATION TO MAKE BLACKSTONE RIVER VALLEY
AMERICA’S NEXT NATIONAL PARK
Dr. Robert D. Billington, president of the
Blackstone Valley Tourism Council (BVTC) has issued the
following statement in support of newly presented Federal
Legislation set to be approved by Congress, to make the
Blackstone River Valley America’s next National Park:
I want to congratulate Senator Reed and
Congressman Cicilline, along with the entire Southern New
England Congressional Delegation for all their hard work in
making the Blackstone River Valley America’s next National Park.
For over three decades, the Tourism Council
and the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor
Commission worked as a catalyst with our public and private
partners to help make our vision of a Blackstone River Valley
National Park into a reality.
As the birthplace of America ’s Industrial
Revolution, Blackstone River Valley has become recognized around
the world being a sustainable visitor and cultural destination.
Now, with the Blackstone River Valley becoming elevated to
National Park status, we become an equal to all National Parks.
Also, with this new status for the
Blackstone River Valley , this will help our region and our
communities in creating jobs and preserving our historic,
cultural and natural resources in perpetuity.”
For more information relating to the
background of the Blackstone River Valley and the Tourism
Council, explore this website or go to the following websites at
News media are welcomed to call BVTC at
401-724-2200 to interview Dr. Billington for reaction to this
The following is the Press Release from the
Office of Rhode Island United States Senator Jack Reed
announcing the legislation creating the Blackstone River Valley
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 3, 2014
CONTACT: Chip Unruh (202) 224-4642
Congress Set to Approve Reed’s
Bill to Create a New National Historical Park Unit Within the
Blackstone River Valley
Reed attaches two key RI public
lands initiatives to the National Defense Authorization Act
WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to preserve an
important piece of American history and invest in Rhode Island’s
future, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), a senior member of the
Armed Services Committee, successfully attached two key public
lands initiatives for Rhode Island to the National Defense
Authorization Act (NDAA), which should be approved by both
houses of Congress by next week.
The bill includes Reed’s Blackstone River
Valley National Historical Park Establishment Act to establish a
new unit of the National Park System along the John H. Chafee
Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. The
multi-site park will include areas of the Old Slater Mill in
Pawtucket and nearby mill towns, including Slatersville (in
North Smithfield) and Ashton (in Cumberland ) in Rhode Island
and Whitinsville and Hopedale in Massachusetts .
“I am pleased we were able to reach a
bipartisan agreement on a package of long-standing public lands
bills, including two key Rhode Island public lands priorities.
The Blackstone Valley is a national treasure that deserves to be
preserved. It is the birthplace of the American Industrial
Revolution and includes thousands of acres of beautiful,
undeveloped land, and waterways that are home to diverse
wildlife, cultural sites, and numerous recreational
opportunities for Rhode Islanders. For years, I have led the
effort to have the area recognized as a national historical
park,” said Reed, the Chairman of the Appropriations
Subcommittee on Interior & Environment, which oversees federal
funding for the National Park Service. “This is an important
step toward permanently preserving nationally significant sites
within the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National
Heritage Corridor as part of the National Park System. This
designation could help bring more visitors to Rhode Island and
ensures the federal government will partner with the state and
local communities to protect these resources. I appreciate the
efforts of Congressman Cicilline and all the members of the
Rhode Island and Massachusetts delegations who supported this.”
Designated as a National Heritage Corridor
in 1986 by Congress, the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley
National Heritage Corridor links twenty-four communities along
the Blackstone River from Providence, Rhode Island to Worcester
, Massachusetts .
If approved by Congress and signed into law
by President Obama, the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley
National Historical Park likely would be run collaboratively
through a special partnership that would allow the National Park
Service to manage and operate the facilities and provide
educational services in the park in partnership with regional
and local preservation groups who would lead the efforts to
preserve the surrounding rural and agriculture landscape within
the existing corridor.
Over the years, Senator Reed has brought
multiple U.S. Secretaries of the Interior up to Rhode Island to
see the proposed park area and the importance of preserving it.
He also led the successful effort to keep the Corridor eligible
for federal funding. Last year, Reed secured $650,000 in federal
funding for the Blackstone Heritage Corridor through the
National Heritage Area program.
According to the Blackstone Valley Tourism
Council, to date, more than $25 million has been spent on
preserving historic buildings, creating museums, constructing
visitor centers, and building permanent exhibits in the Heritage
Corridor. Since 2002, Senator Reed helped secured over $11
million in federal funding for the Corridor and an additional
$6.9 million for the Blackstone River Valley Bikeway.
The NDAA bill also includes Senator Reed and
Congressman Jim Langevin’s (D-RI) Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed
Protection Act to make federal restoration and conservation
resources available to the Pawcatuck River, as well as other
South County and Southeast Connecticut streams.
“The Wood and Pawcatuck Rivers are important
to Rhode Island ’s economy and environment and we must protect
these natural resources. I commend Congressman Langevin for his
efforts to get this bill done. This initiative could help
develop a collaborative river management plan to address issues
ranging from fish passages to the restoration of wetlands to
assistance with flood mitigation,” said Reed.
The U.S. House of Representatives is
scheduled to vote first on the NDAA, followed by the U.S.
Senate. The bill could be sent to the President to be signed
into law as early as next week.
Providence Journal Article