The latest archaeological finds reported in the July 18 online story “Archaeology students dig into Fort Vancouver’s past” at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site underscore the sometimes hidden values of our national park sites. Protecting special places like Fort Vancouver to advance our understanding of who was here and what happened is what the National Park Service does best. That’s why Congress designated the site a national monument in 1948, and then expanded it through the establishment of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in 1961.
How to operate the Pearson Air Museum, which is now open at the park with free admission, should be seen in this larger context. Removing acreage, as proposed by U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, is a step backward, and not the responsible way to go. The park is a nationally significant property supported by all Americans and visited by people from around the world. It deserves the special care we rely on the Park Service to provide.
The National Parks Conservation Association encourages continued stewardship of this site under National Park Service ownership. As NPCA’s Northwest Regional Director, I urge all parties to resolve their differences in favor of protecting this unique site — and its historic riches we have yet to uncover — for generations to come.