Outdoors

Agencies develop plan to guide operation of Manhattan Project park

The Hanford nuclear reservation’s B Reactor, shown in this aerial photo taken in the mid-1940s near Richland, will be part of the Manhattan Project National Historic Park that will also include sites in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Los Alamos, N.M.
The Hanford nuclear reservation’s B Reactor, shown in this aerial photo taken in the mid-1940s near Richland, will be part of the Manhattan Project National Historic Park that will also include sites in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Los Alamos, N.M. Department of Energy, file

Public comments are sought on the draft memorandum of agreement between the National Park Service and Department of Energy that will guide the operation of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act established the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. It also required the secretaries of the Interior and Energy to create a memorandum of agreement by Dec. 19. The Manhattan Project was the World War II program that developed atomic bombs used against Japan.

Once signed, the agreement will formally establish the park and describe how the two agencies will work to preserve, protect and provide access to the historic resources associated with the Manhattan Project.

Over the past several months, a team of National Park Service and Department of Energy officials traveled to the three Manhattan Project Park locations: Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Hanford. Team members met with local elected officials, participated in open houses, and talked with community members and area tribes to understand local perspectives on how the new park should be managed, according to a Park Service news release.

Rather than have a single park headquarters, the Park Service will designate a site manager for each location who will coordinate with the local Department of Energy staff, tribes, community members and partners in the area. The site managers will report to the park’s superintendent, who will work from a central office, likely in Denver. Each site will have similar levels of staffing as park operations grow over the years.

The Hanford site will include the B Reactor National Historic Landmark, Hanford High School in the Hanford Construction Camp Historic District, Bruggeman’s Agricultural Warehouse Complex, White Bluffs Bank and the Hanford Irrigation District Pump House.

The agreement does not include details about interpretive themes, visitor contact stations, staffing or management. Those issues will be addressed in future phases of the planning efforts.

After comments are received and reviewed, the memorandum will be finalized and signed by the two secretaries. Once that document is signed, the park will become an official part of the National Park system.

The next step will be the development of a foundation document in 2016. This document will identify the basic understanding of a park's resources, values and history. Later, NPS will prepare additional plans that will lay out the full vision for the park, including proposed long-term access and operations.

GET INVOLVED

THE DOCUMENT: The draft agreement is available online for review at parkplanning.nps.gov/MPNHP.

TO COMMENT: The agencies will collect comments through Aug. 28. Comments can be submitted online by clicking on the “Open for Comment” link on the left side of the page and selecting the “Comment on Document” option.

Comments also can be mailed to: NPS Denver Service Center, Attn: Tracy Atkins, Project Manager, Manhattan Project National Historical Park, P.O. Box 25287, Denver, CO 80225-0287.

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