Posts Tagged ‘national park’

President Obama sign it, Great Falls is now a National park

The 77-foot waterfall is the second largest on the East Coast.

President Barack Obama signed the legislation Monday regarding Paterson’s Great Falls in northeastern New Jersey. The state has long sought national park status for the Great Falls in hopes that it would help attract tourists and boost the economy of Paterson, a one-time industrial powerhouse.It once provided power to run factories that produced silk, locomotives and firearms. The national park designation makes the 35-acre site eligible for federal funds. Exactly how much the state will get has yet to be determined.

Great Falls close to achieving National park status

A bill designating Paterson’s Great Falls as a national park was passed by the U.S. House on Wednesday. It now goes to President Obama.

The bill overrules a 2006 decision by the National Parks Service, which did not recommend that status. It was introduced by Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, both Paterson natives and Democrats. The state has sought national status for the 77-foot falls in Paterson, 15 miles west of Manhattan, for many years with the hope that doing so would help attract more visitors to the site. A national park designation would make the area eligible for millions of dollars in federal funds.

Effort to designate Great Falls a national park falls short

Two vote short

A wilderness preservation bill that included a national park designation for Paterson’s Great Falls got broad support in the House Wednesday but came up two votes short of passing.

The larger bill, which also would add a building to the historic park in West Orange where Thomas Edison made many of his discoveries, passed the Senate in January and would have gone to President Obama’s desk if approved.

Despite a vote of 282-144, however, it was defeated because the amendment-blocking procedure used to bring it to the floor required 284 “yes” votes.

“We have to bring it back through the regular order,” Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson, said after the vote. “The Republican leadership wanted a ‘no’ on this to bust our chops and get it into the regular order. So let them have their games.”

The entire New Jersey delegation supported the bill, except Rep. Scott Garrett, R-Wantage. A spokeswoman did not immediately have an explanation why.

Critics during a 40-minute debate before the vote complained about the decision by House and Senate leaders to compile numerous bills together and then put the final product before the House with no opportunity for changes.

Opponents noted the National Park Service has an estimated $9 billion maintenance backlog for existing facilities, and adding to the system would invariably make things worse.

Criticism also focused on excluding oil and gas drilling from more of the West; new criminal penalties for removing fossils from public land; and barring motorcyclists from wilderness terrain.

“The motorcyclists were against it because they can’t go through the 163 parks that were involved in it,” Pascrell said. “You take a vote here, you take a vote there. I know guys that would have voted for it except the motorcyclists must’ve bopped a few over the head.”

Only one lawmaker during the debate criticized the provision to preserve the 77-foot Passaic River falls in Paterson that Alexander Hamilton first advocated tapping for energy in 1778.

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, mocked the falls preservation, saying the bill would preserve a brewery, a butterfly garden and condominiums. Pascrell said that was simply not true, and documents provided by Bishop’s office to support the claim quoted an article in a Capitol Hill newspaper article apparently based on ideas proposed but never executed earlier in the decade when the state designated the site as a state park.

“This is the beginning of the industrial revolution in the United States,” Pascrell said, noting that in addition to the textile mills that gave the Silk City its nickname, Paterson was also home Samuel Colt’s first firearms factory and “the largest production of locomotives in the entire country.”

The setback will mean that the bill could be amended, which would also require that it be brought back before the Senate for final approval.