The Push to Turn Blackstone Heritage Corridor into a National Park

May 31, 2013

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior was in Rhode Island Friday touring parts of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. The visit highlighted a push to make the corridor part of the National Park System.

The corridor stretches from Worcester, MA to Pawtucket and Providence. It’s a patchwork of historic sites and park land that follows along the Blackstone River. Who manages the corridor is also a patchwork of state, local, business and non-profit organizations. That’s why U.S. Senator Jack Reed has been pushing a dysfunctional Congress to make the corridor a historic national park.

U.S. Dept of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in Lincoln, RI talking with the media about the benefits of national parks.
Credit Catherine Welch / RIPR

“This is one of those issues that really should be bi-partisan. There are national parks in every part of this country,” said Reed. “It is part of our legacy, created by Theodore Roosevelt, progressive Republican, so this is not a partisan issue.”

Working within the confines of sequestration, Interior Secretary Sally Jewel said the federal designation needs to happen before she could put a price tag on the project.

“Once Congress chooses to make something a national park, then we work on appropriations,” said Jewell. “You’re fortunate here in the state of Rhode Island that Senator Reed chairs the appropriations committee that does work with national parks and we will work with him to make sure we have adequate funding.”

Reed said turning the Blackstone River Valley Corridor into a national park could lure millions of tourists, making it an economic driver for the region.

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