Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today introduced a bill to rename Rock Creek Park “Rock Creek National Park,” which would acknowledge the importance of the park for the nation, visitors and tourists, in addition to its central place for District of Columbia residents.
Norton said this title will highlight Rock Creek as one of the nation’s great historic parks, along with national parks such as Yosemite and Sequoia National Park. Rock Creek is the nation’s oldest urban park and the third oldest federal park in the country. This name change will help Congress to understand it must do more to support Rock Creek Park, she said.
“We are grateful to enjoy all the amenities of a beautiful park running through our city, but Rock Creek Park also deserves its place among the nation’s great historic parks,” Norton said. “Rock Creek Park is one of America’s oldest and most revered parks, enjoyed not only by hundreds of thousands of D.C. residents, but by the millions who visit the District each year. Rock Creek Park is a tourist destination different from our monument sites only in its creation by nature. Redesignating Rock Creek Park as Rock Creek National Park will help recognize the national status of the park and will assist us in getting Congress to revitalize this remarkable resource in our nation’s capital.”
Norton’s introductory statement is below.
Statement of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton
On the Introduction of the Rock Creek National Park Act
August 6, 2019
Ms. Norton. Madam Speaker.
Today, I rise to introduce a bill to redesignate the National Park Service-owned Rock Creek Park, in the District of Columbia, as “Rock Creek National Park.” Renaming this park will highlight its significance to the nation, including visitors to the nation’s capital, and will help get much-needed funding for the park’s inviting trails, waterways and other unique features. No additional federal funds will be required.
Rock Creek Park is already a national park, established by Congress in 1890 “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of the United States,” and is the oldest urban park and the third federal park ever created, after Yellowstone and Sequoia. Rock Creek Park was designed to preserve animals, timber, forestry and other interests in the park, and to ensure that its natural state is maintained as much as possible, for all American people, not just for D.C. residents.
Over time, several structures have been established or donated to further preserve Rock Creek Park. In 1892, for example, the federal government acquired Peirce Mill in Rock Creek Park, one of the mills used by local farmers during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. In 1950, the Old Stone House, located at 3051 M Street NW, with its great pre-Revolutionary War architecture, was acquired by the park. The building was restored, and programs explain the house’s rich history from the colonial period to the present day. The Fort Circle Parks were also acquired to interpret and preserve the Civil War Defenses of Washington, which created a ring of protection for the nation’s capital during the Civil War.
Today, Rock Creek Park offers residents of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia, as well as thousands of visitors, an escape from our increasingly urban environment. Residents and tourists alike enjoy many activities in the park’s 2,000 acres, including hiking and biking on the historical trails, horseback riding, picnicking, tennis and other recreational activities in some of the open fields. Our residents have expressed their appreciation by volunteering to clean up and maintain the trails and waterways.
Redesignating Rock Creek Park as Rock Creek National Park will help recognize the national status of the park and protect and revitalize this remarkable resource in our nation’s capital.
I strongly urge my colleagues to support this legislation.