April 30, 2008

Minidoka Lands Bill Clears Congress

Final bill passes U.S. House, expected to be signed by the President

Washington, DC - Idaho's Congressional Delegation today praised final passage of a public lands bill that includes language to expand the borders of the Minidoka National Internment Site. The legislation, S. 2739, the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, passed the U.S. House of Representatives following approval earlier this month in the U.S. Senate. The legislative language, included in a land management package, could aid human rights efforts to expand private development at the Minidoka site.

Senators Mike Crapo and Larry Craig and Representatives Mike Simpson and Bill Sali all supported the legislation. "This legislation underscores the commitment by all Idahoans to further our human rights efforts," Crapo said. "Settling border issues at the Minidoka site opens the door for private enterprise to take the next step in developing what should become a state landmark to the importance of remembering how important civil rights and human rights are in our state."

"I applaud the House of Representatives for their swift review of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008," Craig said. "This public lands omnibus bill holds three important pieces of legislation for Idaho, and I look forward to the moment when it is signed into law."

"The Delegation worked hard to include several provisions that benefit Idaho in this legislation," said Congressman Mike Simpson. "The irrigation language will finally correct long standing technicalities and allow Idaho farmers to repay construction costs to the Bureau of Reclamation. Also, the Minidoka National Historic Site will find its way to the President's desk. Its preservation will allow future generations to learn from our history. I'm pleased this bill will become law."

Emily Hanako Momahara, Chair of the Friends of Minidoka, said, "The Friends of Minidoka could not be more pleased with the passage of S.2739. The boundary expansion will allow the story of Minidoka to be told in a much more thorough and exciting way. We are very thankful to Congress for their affirmative vote and leadership."

Mark Elsbree, Vice President and Northwest Director for The Conservation Fund in Sun Valley, is the project leader on the Minidoka planning. "Thanks to the leadership of the Idaho Congressional delegation, Congress took a major step forward to conserve Minidoka," Elsbree said. "Yesterday's passage of the bipartisan land bill will safeguard the historic Farm-in-a-Day and enable the National Park Service to tell two important stories that are part of Idaho's rich fabric - the Japanese American history at Minidoka and the development of agriculture in southern Idaho. By conserving lands at Minidoka, this important legislation will promote partnerships between the National Park Service, Japanese American community and the local community to highlight these important chapters in our history for years to come."





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