Texas Times: A Bigger and Better Addition to the National Park System

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn Apr. 20, 2009, 5:23am

This week (April 18-26) we celebrate National Park Week. Recreational activities in the great outdoors are part of our proud Texas heritage and the Lone Star State is home to 13 sites within the National Park System.

Created in 1916, the National Park Service manages some of America's most beautiful landscapes ranging from historic battlefields, national parks and monuments to parkways, trails, rivers, and seashores. Thousands volunteer at these remarkable wonders allowing tourists of every generation to explore the history and breathtaking views of these unique American treasures.

Big Bend, Big Thicket, Padre Island Seashore, and the San Antonio Missions are among the popular destinations of Texas' own historical national sites. Earlier this year, Congress passed legislation that I sponsored in the Senate to extend the boundaries of the Palo Alto Battlefield to incorporate Resaca de la Palma. Lying in the heart of the City of Brownsville, Resaca de la Palma is sacred ground that represents an important part of the colorful fabric of U.S. and Mexico's shared history.

I also recently introduced legislation in Congress that would initiate the Waco Mammoth Site as a new entity of the National Park System. Recently, a six-year study was completed by the National Park Service, in which the findings revealed that the Waco Mammoth Site is suitable for being considered as a national landmark. Several of my colleagues from the Texas Congressional delegation have also joined in this effort.

The Waco Mammoth Site is remarkable on a scale more grand than most. The magnetism and allure of this great attraction is both engaging and educational. The site entails the largest concentration of primitive wooly mammoths that perished at the fate of a single cause. The remains of these great beasts, approximately 68,000 years-old, have long sparked the interest of many archaeologists and paleontologists all around the world.

The attraction surpasses all standards measured by NPS based on its ground breaking significance, suitability, and feasibility. The partnership between the City of Waco and Baylor University has flourished as the two entities work to make the site a national monument and a place where families and tourists can come to explore.

If the legislation is indeed passed, thousands of Texans will have the opportunity to observe the remains of these stunning massive creatures on a daily basis. The Waco Mammoth Site is more than deserving of joining the likes of The Statue of Liberty, Yosemite National Park, and even the Black Canyon in the National Park System.

This site is a source of pride for Waco, Baylor, and the state of Texas. This month, I met with Mayor Virginia DuPuy and Rep. Chet Edwards in Waco to tour the Mammoth Site museum exhibit and discuss our shared commitment and efforts to make the site's status a national monument.

The bones of the monstrous extinct species are more than just a thing of the past. The remains tell a story about the enormous animals that once roamed the land and give us a more intimate view of the history of this great nation.

It is time that the Waco Mammoth Site is incorporated into the National Park System and obtains the recognition that it is undoubtedly due.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Finance, Judiciary and Budget Committees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee's Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

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