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Capito testifies in support of Harrpers Ferry park growth

June 16, 2004

WASHINGTON - A key House panel on Tuesday held a hearing to examine legislation written by U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., to expand the boundaries of the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, a news release from Byrd's office said.

Byrd's legislation would expand the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park boundary capacity by 1,240 acres, from its current 2,505 acres to 3,745 acres.

Harpers Ferry, which became part of the National Park System in 1944, hosted more than 250,000 visitors last year.

"This is an important bill for Harpers Ferry, for the Eastern Panhandle, and, in fact, for the nation. By expanding the park's boundaries, we can protect the rich historic and recreational opportunities that the park offers to residents and tourists alike," Byrd said in the release.

The House Resources Committee's National Parks, Recreation, and Public Lands Subcommittee discussed Byrd's bill on Tuesday.

Byrd introduced the legislation on Sept. 3, 2003. He guided it through the Senate, which passed the bill unanimously on May 19, 2004. The House Resources Committee hearing was the first step toward passage in that chamber.

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The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today endorsed the proposal by Byrd and U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito to add the 1,240 acres to the park.

"This expansion is critical to the future of Harpers Ferry," said NPCA Mid-Atlantic Regional Director Joy Oakes. "Sen. Byrd and Rep. Capito are champions for the park and leaders in preserving our nation's priceless heritage from suburban sprawl and other pressures."

Capito, R-W.Va., testified today before the House subcommittee in support of the proposal to add the Civil War landscape to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, a release from Capito's office said.

Byrd has helped provide millions of dollars in federal funding for the National Park Service to update, renovate, and refurbish buildings and educational resources at Harpers Ferry.

In addition, in 2001, Byrd shepherded $2 million through Congress to allow the NPS, in conjunction with Civil War preservation groups, to purchase the Murphy Farm property adjacent to the park, the release said.

Also in 2001, Byrd helped conclude more than four decades of negotiations between the National Park Service and CSX Corp., resulting in the Park Service's acquisition of the historic U.S. Armory Grounds in Harpers Ferry, the release said.

The property includes both the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) train station and the site where John Brown and his raiders barricaded themselves in 1859.

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