Amache Has A Shot At National Parkhood As Congress Renews Lapsed Public Lands Fund

February 26, 2019
Photo: Camp Amache Present Day 1 - AP Photo
This Jan. 18, 2015, photo shows a sign at the entrance to Camp Amache, the site of a former World War II-era Japanese-American internment camp in Granada, Colo.

Congress has given final approval to a package of more than 100 public lands and water bills.

The approval reauthorizes funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has funneled millions into Colorado alone for public lands funding. The fund had expired in September of last year.

Notably, the package will prompt the National Park Service to study whether to include Amache, a former Japanese internment camp near the small town of Granada on Colorado’s southeastern plains, as a new park unit.

More than 7,500 Japanese-Americans were detained at Amache, living on 1 square mile surrounded by barbed-wire fences and guard towers manned by military police.

John Hopper runs the Amache Preservation Society on donations and student volunteers.

"Right now we're landmark status. But if we became a full site, that would help alleviate a lot of our being overextended,” Hopper said.

While Hopper believes receiving National Park status would boost traffic and provide better staffing, he knows the move is not without downsides.

"But (the) National Park Service is hurting for money. Will that be a problem? That's going to be a problem,” Hopper said.

The renewed fund also includes other small changes in Colorado, such as adjusting the National Forest boundaries near Rocky Mountain National Park to protect views for visitors.

The package of bills now goes to President Donald Trump for a signature.