Why Oppose the Military LAND Act?

The Department of Defense (DOD) , National Park Service (NPS), and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) all believe this legislation is unnecessary. During Natural Resources Committee consideration of the Military LAND Act, Democratic members of the Committee opposed the Military LAND Act. The DOD and the NPS testified against the bill. The NPS in its testimony stated “The Department is unaware of specific cases where National Register, NHL, or World Heritage List designations have adversely affected national security.”

The Military LAND Act undermines the NHPA and has the potential to unfairly politicize the listing of historic resources the National Register. The NHPA provides the direction and tools to protect our historic resources and, importantly, sets up a clear process of consideration of our historic heritage. Federal, state, and local governments use the NHPA to identify, preserve and protect our historical, architectural, archeological and cultural resources. The National Register of Historic Places is currently comprised of more than 88,000 listings. For the reason of national security, the Military LAND Act would allow for the expedited removal of federal properties from the National Register. This includes some of most treasured public buildings.

Listing a property or determining the eligibility of a property for the National Register does not limit a federal agencies authority. Section 2816 wrongly raises alarm that designation of historic sites weakens the authority of federal agencies to protect our national security. There is nothing that imposes any legal constraint on federal agencies to protect the interests of national security. In fact there are many examples in which Military and Federal Agencies have demolished or made non-historic changes to historic properties. For example the Pensacola Naval Air Station, a NHL, demolished instead of repairing 33 historic structures after Hurricane Ivan hit 2004.

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