S. Rept. 113-53 - 113th Congress (2013-2014)
June 27, 2013, As Reported by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Report text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this legislative text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.




Senate Report 113-53 - BUFFALO SOLDIERS IN THE NATIONAL PARKS STUDY




[Senate Report 113-53]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]


                                                       Calendar No. 107
113th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session                                                     113-53

======================================================================



 
              BUFFALO SOLDIERS IN THE NATIONAL PARKS STUDY

                                _______
                                

                 June 27, 2013.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

    Mr. Wyden, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 225]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 225) to authorize the Secretary of the 
Interior to conduct a study of alternatives for commemorating 
and interpreting the role of the Buffalo Soldiers in the early 
years of the National Parks, and for other purposes, having 
considered the same, reports favorably thereon without 
amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.

                                PURPOSE

    The purpose of S. 225 is to authorize the Secretary of the 
Interior to conduct a study of alternatives for commemorating 
and interpreting the role of the Buffalo Soldiers in the early 
years of the National Parks.

                          BACKGROUND AND NEED

    In the late 19th and early 20th century, America's Buffalo 
Soldiers--segregated cavalry units of the U.S. Army--played an 
important, yet little known role in the history of our national 
parks. The African American soldiers of the 24th Infantry and 
9th Cavalry were responsible for patrolling the 320-mile route 
between the Presidio in San Francisco to Sequoia and Yosemite 
National Parks. Their units built roads and trails along the 
route and they protected these new parks from poaching, 
logging, fire, and trespass grazing. Starting in 1903, the 
Buffalo Soldiers were led by Lt. Colonel Charles Young, only 
the third African American to graduate from West Point. Young 
was assigned as the Acting Superintendent of Sequoia National 
Park in California for the summer and is regarded as the 
driving force behind completion of a much needed wagon road 
through Sequoia National Park and the trail to the top of Mount 
Whitney. The road and trail are still in use today.
    S. 225 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to 
conduct a study to determine effective ways to commemorate the 
Buffalo Soldiers and their role in helping to protect, build, 
and preserve America's national parks, as well as to ascertain 
the suitability and feasibility of potential historic sites, 
national landmarks, and a national historic trail related to 
their work.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    Senators Feinstein and Boxer introduced S. 225 on February 
4, 2013. The Subcommittee on National Parks held a hearing on 
S. 225 on April 23, 2013. At its business meeting on May 16, 
2013, the Committee ordered S. 225 favorably reported.
    In the 112th Congress, Senators Feinstein and Boxer 
introduced similar legislation, S. 544, on March 10, 2011. The 
Subcommittee on National Parks held a hearing on S. 544 on 
October 19, 2011 (S. Hrg. 112-224).

                        COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

    The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in 
open business session on May 16, 2013, by a voice vote of a 
quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 225.

                      SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

    Section 1 provides the short title, the ``Buffalo Soldiers 
in the National Parks Act''.
    Subsection (a) contains congressional findings.
    Subsection (b) provides that the purpose of the act is to 
authorize a study of the role of the Buffalo Soldiers in the 
early years of the National Park Service.
    Section 2(a) authorizes the Secretary of the Interior 
(Secretary) to conduct a study of alternatives for 
commemorating and interpreting the role of the Buffalo Soldiers 
in the National Parks.
    Subsection (b) directs the Secretary to include within the 
study, identified in the previous section, a historical 
assessment of the Buffalo Soldiers who served in the National 
Park, evaluate the feasibility of establishing a national 
historic trail, and identify properties that could meet the 
criteria for listing in the National Register of Historic 
Places or designation as a National Historic Landmark. The 
Secretary is further directed to evaluate appropriate ways to 
enhance historical research, education, interpretation, and 
public awareness of the Buffalo Soldiers story including ways 
to link the story to the development of National Parks and the 
story of African-American service following the Civil War.
    Subsection (c) requires that the Secretary submit a report 
containing the study's findings and recommendations to the 
Committee on Natural Resources of the House and the Committee 
on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate.

                   COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS

    The following estimate of costs of this measure has been 
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:

S. 225--Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act

    S. 225 would require the National Park Service (NPS) to 
conduct a study of alternatives for honoring the Buffalo 
Soldiers (members of several African-American regiments within 
the U.S. Army established after the Civil War) in their role in 
the development of the National Park System. The U.S. Army, 
including regiments of Buffalo Soldiers, was responsible for 
protecting national parks before the National Park Service was 
established.
    Based on information from the NPS and assuming the 
availability of appropriated funds, CBO estimates that 
conducting the study would cost about $400,000 over the next 
three years. Enacting S. 225 would not affect direct spending 
or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    S. 225 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    On May 2, 2013, CBO transmitted a cost estimate for H.R. 
520, the Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act, as 
ordered to be reported by the House Committee on Natural 
Resources on April 24, 2013. The two pieces of legislation are 
nearly identical, and the CBO cost estimates are the same.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Martin von 
Gnechten. The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                      REGULATORY IMPACT EVALUATION

    In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following 
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in 
carrying out S. 225.
    The bill is not a regulatory measure in the sense of 
imposing Government-established standards or significant 
economic responsibilities on private individuals and 
businesses.
    No personal information would be collected in administering 
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal 
privacy.
    Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the 
enactment of S. 225, as ordered reported.

                   CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED SPENDING

    S. 225, as reported, does not contain any congressionally 
directed spending items, limited tax benefits, or limited 
tariff benefits as defined in rule XLIV of the Standing Rules 
of the Senate.

                        EXECUTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

    The testimony provided by the National Park Service at the 
April 23, 2013, Subcommittee on National Parks hearing on S. 
225 follows:

  Statement of Peggy O'Dell, Deputy Director for Operations, National 
                Park Service, Department of the Interior

    Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for 
the opportunity to appear before you today to present the 
Department of the Interior's views on S. 225, to authorize the 
Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study of alternatives 
for commemorating and interpreting the role of the Buffalo 
Soldiers in the early years of the national parks, and for 
other purposes.
    The Department supports S. 225. However, we feel that 
priority should be given to the 31 previously authorized 
studies for potential units of the National Park System, 
potential new National Heritage Areas, and potential additions 
to the National Trails System and National Wild and Scenic 
River System that have not yet been transmitted to Congress.
    S. 225 would authorize a study to determine the most 
effective ways to increase understanding and public awareness 
of the critical role that the Buffalo Soldiers, segregated 
units composed of African-American cavalrymen, played in the 
early years of the national parks. It would evaluate the 
suitability and feasibility of a National Historic Trail along 
the routes between their post at the Presidio of San Francisco 
and the parks they protected, notably Yosemite and Sequoia. The 
study would also identify properties that could meet the 
criteria for listing in the National Register of Historic 
Places or designation as National Historic Landmarks. We 
estimate that this study will cost approximately $400,000.
    President Obama recognized the legacy of the Buffalo 
Soldiers in issuing a proclamation on March 25, 2013, 
designating the Charles Young home in Wilberforce, Ohio, as a 
national monument. The Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National 
Monument is now the 401st unit of the National Park System. The 
Presidential proclamation that established this national 
monument authorizes the NPS to complete a management plan that 
would include interpreting the struggles and achievements of 
the Buffalo Soldiers in their service to the United States. We 
note that, if S. 225 is enacted, there will be overlap with the 
Presidential proclamation, as this bill directs the NPS to 
complete a study to increase understanding and public awareness 
of the critical role that the Buffalo Soldiers played in the 
early years of the national parks. However, this bill goes 
beyond the direction in the Presidential proclamation by 
additionally authorizing a study of the suitability and 
feasibility of a national historic trail and identification of 
National Register of Historic Places National Historic 
Landmarks properties related to the Buffalo Soldiers. If 
enacted, the NPS will coordinate the completion of the study 
and the management plan.
    African-American 19th and 20th century Buffalo Soldiers 
were an important, yet little known, part of the history of 
some of our first national parks. These cavalry troops rode 
hundreds of miles from their post at the Presidio of San 
Francisco to Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks in order to 
patrol and protect them. The journey across the state took 
sixteen days of serious horseback riding averaging over twenty 
miles a day. Once in the parks, they were assigned to patrol 
the backcountry, build roads and trails, put a halt to 
poaching, suppress fires, stop trespass grazing by large herds 
of unregulated cattle and sheep, and otherwise establish roles 
later assumed by National Park rangers.
    The U.S. Army administered Sequoia and Yosemite National 
Parks from 1891 to 1914, when it was replaced by civilian 
management. The National Park Service (NPS) was not created 
until 1916, 25 years after these parks were established. 
Commanding officers became acting military superintendents for 
these national parks with two troops of approximately 60 
cavalry men assigned to each. The troops essentially created a 
roving economy--infusing money into parks and local 
businesses--and thus their presence was generally welcomed. The 
presence of these soldiers as official stewards of park lands 
prior to the NPS's establishment brought a sense of law and 
order to the mountain wilderness.
    Lesser known, however, is the participation of African-
American troops of the 24th Infantry and 9th Cavalry, the 
Buffalo Soldiers, who protected both Sequoia and Yosemite 
National Parks in 1899, 1903, and 1904. These troops and their 
contributions should be recognized and honored, and this bill 
does just that.
    The most notable Buffalo Soldier was Colonel Charles Young, 
who served as a captain in the cavalry commanding a segregated 
black company at the Presidio of San Francisco. Born in 
Kentucky during the Civil War, Charles Young had already set 
himself a course that took him to places where a black man was 
not often welcome. He was the first black to graduate from the 
white high school in Ripley, Ohio, and through competitive 
examination he won an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy 
at West Point in 1884. He went on to graduate with his 
commission, only the third black man to do so. Colonel Young's 
story and leadership are emblematic of the experience of the 
Buffalo Soldiers during difficult and racially tense times. 
When the new military superintendent arrived in Sequoia 
National Park in the summer of 1903, he had already faced many 
challenges. Young and his troops arrived in Sequoia after a 16-
day ride from the Presidio of San Francisco to find that one of 
their major assignments would be the extension of the wagon 
road. Hoping to break the sluggish pattern of previous military 
administrations, Young poured his considerable energies into 
the project. Young and his troops built as much road as the 
combined results of the three previous summers, as well as 
building a trail to the top of Mt. Whitney--the highest point 
in the contiguous United States.
    The soldiers also protected the giant sequoias from illegal 
logging, wildlife from poaching, and the watershed and 
wilderness from unauthorized grazing by livestock. A difficult 
task under any circumstances, the intensity was undoubtedly 
compounded by societal prejudice common at the turn of the 
century. They also produced maps and assisted tourists in the 
area.
    Although Colonel Charles Young only served one season as an 
acting superintendent of a national park, he and his men have 
not been forgotten. The energy and dignity they brought to this 
national park assignment left a strong imprint. The roads they 
built are still in use today, having served millions of park 
visitors for more than eighty years. The legacy they left 
extends far beyond Sequoia National Park, as they helped lay 
the foundation for the National Park System, which continues to 
inspire and connect people of all backgrounds to public lands 
and natural treasures to this day.
    In recent years the NPS has made an effort to chronicle the 
achievements of these men. In the Presidio of San Francisco, 
Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the Presidio Trust 
have developed an education program using the historic stables 
that the Buffalo Soldiers actually used to house their horses. 
In Yosemite National Park, a park ranger portrays one of the 
U.S. Army's Buffalo Soldiers as part of his interpretation of 
Yosemite's history. Sequoia National Park has a giant sequoia 
named for Colonel Young in honor of his lasting legacy in that 
park. These isolated but important efforts to educate the 
public on the important role of the Buffalo Soldiers could be 
heightened by this consolidated study.
    There is a growing concern that youth are becoming 
increasingly disconnected with wild places and our national 
heritage. Additionally, many people of color are not 
necessarily aware of national parks and the role their 
ancestors may have played in shaping the national park system. 
The NPS can help foster a stronger sense of awareness and 
knowledge about the critical roles of African-American Buffalo 
Soldiers in the protection and development of some of our 
nation's natural treasures. As the 2016 centennial of the NPS 
approaches, it is an especially appropriate time to conduct 
research and increase public awareness of the stewardship role 
the Buffalo Soldiers played in the early years of the national 
parks.
    Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony. I would be glad 
to answer any questions that you or other members of the 
subcommittee may have.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no 
changes in existing law are made by S. 225, as ordered 
reported.