A Senate step forward for more National Park sites in TN — including Polk home

News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander:

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 30, 2017 – A Senate committee today approved legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to take the next step in including former President James K. Polk’s home in Columbia, Tenn., in the National Park System. The committee also approved legislation to expand the boundaries of Shiloh National Military Park to include three Civil War battlefields in Tennessee and Mississippi and designate Parker’s Crossroads as an affiliated area of the National Park System. Alexander sponsored the Senate version of the legislation.

“We talk a lot about the importance of science and math, but, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, most high school seniors in America score the worst in history. I can think of no better way to encourage the study of U.S. history than to protect and preserve sites like President Polk’s home and the Shiloh National Military Park so future generations can learn about our past and help us become better Americans in the future,” Alexander said. “These pieces of legislation also provide an opportunity to attract more visitors to Tennessee and strengthen local economies.”

With the approval by the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the James K. Polk Presidential Study Act and the Shiloh National Military Park Boundary Adjustment and Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield Designation Act can now be considered by the full Senate.

On January 11, Alexander introduced the James K. Polk Presidential Home Study Act. Identical legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07) and Congressman Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-04) on the same day. The legislation directs the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study and evaluate the suitability and feasibility of designating the site as a unit of the National Park System. Once the study is completed, the conclusions and recommendations will be submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources and the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, of which Alexander is a member. If the study recommends the Polk Home should be included in the National Park System, Congress would then need to pass legislation designating the Polk Home as a new unit of the National Park System.

Alexander introduced the Shiloh National Military Park Boundary Adjustment and Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield Designation Act on January 11. On January 3, Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07) introduced the Shiloh National Military Park Boundary Adjustment and Parker’s Crossroads Battlefield Designation Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation passed the House on February 27. The legislation would expand the boundary of Shiloh National Military Park to include three Civil War battlefields in Tennessee and Mississippi and designate Parker’s Crossroads as an affiliated area of the National Park System.

Note: Alexander’s effort on the Polk home coincides with the state legislature considering disinterring the president’s body from its tomb and moving it to the Columbia site. The senator, through a spokeswoman, has declined to respond to an email inquiry on whether he supports or opposes that effort.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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