The Introduction of the Rock Creek National Park in the District of Columbia Actby Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton
Posted on 2014-01-16
of the district of columbia
in the house of representatives
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, as we approach the 125th anniversary of Rock
Creek Park, I introduce a bill to redesignate Rock Creek Park in the
District of Columbia as ``Rock Creek National Park in the District of
Columbia.'' The bill will help clarify the difference between the
contiguous Rock Creek Park land that is owned by the State of Maryland
and the portion that is under federal jurisdiction in the District of
Columbia. Renaming this park will also highlight the significance of
the park for the nation, including visitors to the nation's capital,
and particularly for the residents of the District of Columbia, to
encourage more daily use and involvement with the park's beautiful
trails, waterways and features.
Rock Creek Park is a historically rich park, established by Congress in 1890 ``for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of the United States,'' and is the oldest urban park and the third federal park ever created, after Yellowstone and Sequoia. Rock Creek Park was designed to preserve animals, timber, forestry, and other interests in the park, and to ensure that the natural state of the park is maintained as much as possible.
Over time, several structures have been established or donated to further preserve Rock Creek Park. In 1892, for example, the federal government acquired Peirce Mill in Rock Creek Park, one of the mills used by local farmers during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. In 1950, the Old Stone House located at 3051 M Street NW., with great pre- Revolutionary War architectural merit, was acquired. The building was restored, and programs explain the house's rich history from the colonial period to present day. The Fort Circle Parks were also acquired to interpret and preserve the Civil Defenses of Washington, which created a ring of protection for the nation's capital during the Civil War.
Today, Rock Creek Park offers District of Columbia, Maryland, and Northern Virginia residents an escape from urban living. Residents and tourists alike also enjoy many activities in the park's 2,000 acres, including hiking and bike riding on the historical trails, horseback riding, picnicking, tennis, and other recreational activities in some of the open fields. Moreover, residents are involved in the cleanup and maintenance of the trails and waterways. Rock Creek Conservancy works directly with the National Park Service and is dedicated to protecting and promoting the entirety of the Rock Creek watershed through conservation, recreation, and education programs.
Redesignating Rock Creek Park will help highlight its national status and protect and revitalize this remarkable resource in our nation's capital. It also is fitting that we recognize its historical significance as we approach the 125th anniversary of Rock Creek Park.
I strongly urge my colleagues to support the legislation.