Maryland's senators are trying once again to revive the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Commission. The state's senators, Ben Cardin (D) and Barbara Mikulski (D) introduced legislation on Wednesday, March 6 (S. 476) to extend the commission another 10 years. Read about the legislation at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d113:1:./temp/~bdPrV2:@@@X|/home/LegislativeData.php|.
The legislation was referred to the Committee on Energy & Natural Resources.
Congress created the commission when it designated the national park in 1971 but required it to be reauthorized every 10 years. The commission has consisted of members of the communities along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park and met regularly with park officials to provide information and give citizens along the canal a voice in governing the C and O Canal park.
The commission is needed because the park presents unique management challenges because it is very narrow and 184.5 miles long, which makes it hard to centrally keep track of and manage.
Traditionally, Congress has passed the reauthorization bill with no controversy. But the commission expired last year because then Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) objected to it on the grounds that it included representatives from West Virginia, even though the canal doesn't go in West Virginia. Many West Virginians cross the border into Maryland to use the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal trail, though.
Bartlett no longer serves in Congress, so maybe it can pass this year. It costs very little money, $33,199 in FY 10, all of which came from the park's operating budget.
In the meantime, park officials have been meeting with community members and concerned park users informally.