WASHINGTON, DC - In response to a request from Congress to study sites related to the life of César Chávez and the farm labor movement, the National Park Service today transmitted a final resource study recommending the establishment of a new national historical park to interpret the life of the civil rights leader and preserve the places important to the Farm Labor Movement.
“César Chávez was one of the most important labor and civil rights leaders of the 20th century, and the Farm Movement he led improved the lives of millions of agricultural workers,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Sites associated with his life and the movement he led are an important part of American history and should be included in the National Park System not only to honor his legacy but also to ensure that future generations learn about what the movement accomplished. I am pleased to transmit these recommendations to Congress for their consideration.”
“César Chávez was at the epicenter of some of the most significant achievements of the Civil Rights and labor movements in our nation’s history and through his leadership, farmworkers achieved unprecedented labor, political and social gains,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said. “Recognizing these sites associated with his leadership of the United Farm Workers as part of a national historical park will ensure that his contributions to the Civil Rights movement will be preserved and shared as an inspiration for future generations.”
Historians from the National Park Service, and California State University, Fullerton evaluated approximately 100 sites related to Chávez and the farm labor movement in developing the report, entitled the César Chávez Special Resource Study, which was requested by Congress in the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (P.L 110-229.)
The report not only considered sites for inclusion in the park system but also for additional designations, such as listing in the National Register of Historic Places or designation as a national historic landmark. It also identifies five management alternatives exploring a range of approaches to manage, protect, or restore significant resources and to provide or enhance public use and enjoyment.
The National Park Service has identified the creation of a national historical park as the preferred alternative, as it would protect the largest number of nationally significant resources related to the farm labor movement, including opportunities for protection of the national historical park sites in perpetuity.
Through the special resource study process and public comment period, the NPS made the following determinations:
- Of the approximately 100 sites evaluated, five have preliminarily been found to be nationally significant: the Forty Acres National Historic Landmark, Delano, Calif.; Filipino Community Hall, Delano, Calif.; César E. Chávez National Monument at Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz, Keene, Calif.; the Santa Rita Center, Phoenix, Ariz.; and the route of the 1966 Delano to Sacramento March. The 1966 Delano to Sacramento route also meets eligibility criteria for designation as a national historic trail.
- A partnership-based national park site or technical assistance program which provides opportunities for collaborative management to protect cultural resources, provide public access, interpretation, and educational opportunities at certain sites associated with the life of César E. Chávez and the farm labor movement is a feasible addition to the U.S. National Park System.
- There is a need for National Park Service management to achieve partnership-based protection of significant resources and enhanced visitor appreciation of the important resources and stories associated with the life of César E. Chávez and the farm labor movement.
Under the preferred alternative transmitted to Congress today, the César E. Chávez National Monument in Keene, Calif. would serve as a cornerstone for the new national historical park. The monument was created on October 8, 2012, by President Obama as the 398th unit of the National Park System and includes Chávez’ home and the headquarters of the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) since the early 1970s when Chávez was its president. It is funded in part by the American Latino Heritage Fund of the National Park Foundation, which supports the work of the National Park Service in preserving historic places that tell a more inclusive story of American Latinos' economic, civic and cultural contributions to the American experience.
If approved by Congress, the National Park Service would manage these sites under a partnership arrangement in which current owners would maintain ownership and management functions in most cases, while the Service would coordinate the sites and an additional network of related resources. This approach allows the Park Service to focus on interpretation, education, technical assistance, and cooperative efforts at several historically significant sites, while limiting federal ownership.
Since Congress authorized the study in 2008, the National Park Service has hosted a series of public meetings to present the draft study report, answer questions, and accept comments. The final report, including a recommended course of action from the Secretary of the Interior, is now being transmitted to Congress.
More information and the draft study are available at www.nps.gov/pwro/chavez.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov, on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.