Lee Radzak at Split Rock just contributed an excellent letter to Congress as part of the ongoing effort to restore the national maritime grants program funding, and it’s a critically important time for the lighthouse community to do the same. I’ve just fired off another round of emails to my area’s senators and representatives, who have heard a lot about this from me in the past (one even signed on as a cosponsor of an earlier version), but at this juncture the more input we can provide the better.
Tim Runyan is leading this effort from our side, and Denise Krepp has done some absolutely fantastic work on holding the Maritime Administration accountable. Here’s a link to her latest: http://www.americanshipper.com/Main/ASD/Oped_The_real_facts_about_Maritime_Heritage_Grants_61078.aspx
Please get on board with this. We need to show support. Contact your senator about the STORIS Act (S. 1511 in the Senate) and your representatives in the House (where the bill is HR 2876). Tim has provided a letter template:
On Letterhead if possible
(Insert address) or Washington, DC
Dear (Senator or Rep.) (insert name),
My name is (insert) and I represent (insert). I am writing to you to seek your support for (S. 1511 or HR. 2876), the “Ships to be Recycled in the States” (STORIS) Act, especially Section 4 (c) (C) to assure a competitive public grants program in support of America’s maritime heritage. Please support inclusion of the Storis Act in the Coast Guard authorization bill; or as a floor amendment.
The (my organization) is devoted to (insert your mission). The maritime heritage community is composed of more than 1,000 non-profit organizations in more than 40 states. This includes historic naval ships, maritime museums, tall ships for sail training, lighthouses, maritime historical societies, education, and preservation organizations. Thousands of veterans serve as staff or volunteers.
The STORIS Act is a proposed amendment to Public Law 103-451, the National Maritime Heritage Act of 1994. This act calls for a pool of unappropriated funds equal to 25% of the proceeds from the scrapping of ships in the National Defense Reserve Fleet (“mothball fleet”), to be distributed by the National Park Service to maritime non-profit institutions, and state and local governments through a competitive matching grants program. There is no impact on the budget.
The National Maritime Heritage Act reflected an historic and deep recognition by Congress of the importance of our country’s maritime history. On a practical level, the National Maritime Heritage Act also sought to provide assistance to those non-government organizations dedicated to preserving surviving reminders of that past, the ships, the artifacts and the stories that are so vital in telling our unique maritime story to new generations of Americans and so economically important to the cultural tourism sector on which so many communities heavily depend.
An amendment was added to the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act that allowed the Maritime Administration to use all of the funds solely for the preservation of property it owns. This ultimately resulted in reduced funding to maritime heritage institutions across the country in more than 40 states by 50%.
The STORIS Act (S. 1511), restores the original formula of 50% for MARAD, 25% to maritime academies, and a full 25% to the National Park Service-administered grants program for maritime preservation and educational projects. The STORIS Act also seeks more transparency in the ship-scrapping process.
I respectfully request that you support the Storis Act.
Please send a copy of your email or letter to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d do that too, but here at ALC headquarters in the Dire Straits Lighthouse budget cuts have reduced us to using carrier pigeons. It’s a long flight, and hopefully Tim won’t need my copies in 2016.