National Seashore Advisory Commission Seeks Legislative Re-authorization

WELLFLEET – A bill that would reauthorize the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission for another decade has been filed in the U.S. Senate.

Massachusetts Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren recently filed the legislation after a similar bill was passed by the House of Representatives.

The commission, which advises the superintendent and the federal government on how to best manage the park, was suspended and placed under review by the Trump Administration in the spring of 2017.

Commission Chairman Rich Delaney is hopeful that Markey and Warren will get the bill to the floor and passed.

“They are working hard as Congressman William Keating did in the House,” Delaney said. “So that would be a tremendous success and would guarantee at least our Congressional Authorization to exist.”

Legislation that reauthorized the commission for the last ten years expired on September 26.

The commission was created by statute and exists by law.

The reauthorization legislation has expired before. The previous 10-year reauthorization which expired on September 26, 2018 was signed into law by President Barack Obama in March of 2009.

Delaney said the legislation is only half the battle and work must also be done to convince Department of the Interior and National Park Service officials to approve regular meetings.

Since the commission was placed under review in the spring of 2017, it has only been allowed to meet twice.

The first meeting in June came after a 15-month hiatus. The second meeting was in late September just days before the legislation authorizing the commission expired.

“It’s a two-step process but we are right now focused on getting the authorization passed,” Delaney said.

The commission was created at the time of the formation of the Cape Cod National Seashore by the National Park Service as there was resistance from Cape Cod towns. The commission is made up of one representative from each of the six towns, two representatives from the state and two representing Barnstable County.

It usually meets every other month except during the summer.

The commission is the oldest, continuously operating advisory commission of any National Park or Department of the Interior project in the nation.

“It was key to, I think, the success of the establishment of the Cape Cod National Seashore,” Delaney said.

The commission has met 381 over 50-plus years.

“I think we’ve had a pretty good track record of provided that neutral forum where the towns can voice their concerns that the superintendent of the park hears and we get to hopefully resolve them and solve them,” Delaney said. “And we have done that with a lot of big issues.”

Delaney said the commission has helped resolve issues with jet skis, dune shacks and off-road vehicles.

All of the National Park Service advisory commissions were banned from meeting in the spring of 2017 for review. The National Seashore Advisory Committee remains one of just three out of more than 200 similar commissions which have not been fully reinstated by the Department of the Interior.

The Boston Harbor Islands National Park Advisory Committee has also not been fully reinstated.

Delaney hopes the reason is not politically motivated, but said it can’t be ruled out.


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