Congressman Keating's National Seashore Legislation Passes House

Bill would re-authorize Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission
Congressman Bill Keating

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Bill’s Keating legislation to reauthorize the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission passed the House.  H.R. 182 would reauthorize the Commission through September 26, 2028.  The Commission’s previous authorization ended in 2018, and Congressman Keating’s legislation would apply retroactively.

The Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission, originally authorized in 1961, advises the National Park Service on the development and operation of Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts. Members, who aren’t compensated for their service, include representatives of the state government, Barnstable County, and the six towns within the seashore’s boundary, as well as the Interior Department.

Below are Congressman Keating’s floor remarks delivered this afternoon in support of H.R. 182:

Thank you, Madame Speaker. I rise in support of my bill, H.R. 182, to reauthorize the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission.

The Cape Cod National Seashore was created by President Kennedy in 1961. His vision was to preserve the unique landscape of the Outer Cape for the recreation and enjoyment of all Americans - forever. Today, more than 4 million people, both Americans and those from around the world, travel to Cape Cod every year to experience the natural beauty and recreation that the Cape Cod National Seashore provides.

When the Cape Cod National Seashore was proposed, however, it presented challenges to the residents of Cape Cod, unique to locating a national park on a peninsula with an limited land area.

In many communities on the Outer Cape, the Seashore was designed to occupy as much as 80 percent of the available land - effectively foreclosing other economic development options after the park was established.

And while the promise of President Kennedy’s vision for the Outer Cape has been realized, with the Seashore drawing millions of people from around the world to the Cape, the importance of Advisory Commission to the National Seashore and its host communities is still as important today as with was almost 60 years ago.

The Advisory Commission was at the heart of President Kennedy’s vision for the National Seashore, as he recognized that host communities would need a voice in National Seashore affairs after the park was formed. To this end, it was important that the host communities retain a formal structure to advise Seashore leadership and the Park Service about how actions taken within the Park would affect them.

The reasons for the powers granted to the Advisory Commissions in its enabling legislation are just as persuasive today as they were in 1961. Since what happens on the Seashore directly effects the lives of thousands of my constituents in the host communities. 

Some have suggested that the authority regarding commercial activity granted to the Seashore Advisory Commission in its enabling legislation is no longer needed. I reject this.

Suggestions that the value of having regulatory unity amongst National Park Service lands, and the various advisory commissions, are unpersuasive when one considers the unique nature of the Cape. That such a bureaucratic consideration could possibly outweigh the important benefits that the National Seashore Advisory Commission provides to my constituents is laughable.

Today, just as in the 1960’s, the unique nature of the Outer Cape presents the same challenges to those who live there with respect to the National Seashore. The most effective way to address the concerns of the Outer Cape community is to ensure that a functioning Advisory Commission is sitting and can continue to play its important role in the community.

Long ago, President Kennedy envisioned what responsible self-governance looks like on the Outer Cape. A balance between the Seashore, the towns, and a place where all parties could come together in the spirit of sustaining the community as a whole - the Advisory Commission.   

Over the past few years, the Outer Cape region has faced some of its toughest challenges. With climate change, coastal erosion, ocean acidification, and new concerns about sharks in the waters off Cape Cod, Cape Codders are grappling with some of the most difficult issues to face the community in years. Under these circumstances, the Commissions absence is felt every day.

That is why I ask my colleagues to support this simple piece of legislation - a bill that has been passed by this House in the last Congress -  that will reactivate an effective tool that has provided an important role in the Cape Cod Community, our community, for nearly 60 years.


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