2012-07-06 / Letters

Recognize Senator Buckley

Dear Editor,

I recently introduced a piece of legislation, H.R. 5958, which seeks to honor former New York Senator James L. Buckley, a man who served our country at the highest levels in all three branches of government, as well as the United States Navy. Since the introduction of the legislation, there have been numerous stories about the bill. Some of those stories have stated that the bill would seek to rename the entire Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in honor of Senator Buckley. I wish to use this letter to correct any misinformation or misunderstanding about the purpose of the bill.

The bill I introduced will simply name the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center the “James L. Buckley Visitor Center” in an effort to recognize Senator Buckley’s efforts to create the Gateway National Recreation Area in New York and New Jersey as well as his service to our great state and country. His stellar professional and environmental record make him just as deserving of such an honor as Congressman William Fitts Ryan whose name was designated to another visitor center within Gateway.

In 1970, during his first days in the Senate, Senator Buckley joined with Senator Jacob Javits in introducing legislation which would create Gateway, a more than 26,000 acre area spanning three boroughs and stretching all the way to Sandy Hook, New Jersey. He and Senator Javits had the vision to create a national wildlife refuge in an urban area, accessible to the millions of people in New York City and the millions more in the metropolitan area. This year, as it celebrates its 40th anniversary, Gateway welcomes more than 8 million visitors annually.

Senator Buckley’s environmental interests were not only limited to New York. He co-sponsored the 1972 Clean Water Act, the seminal law governing water pollution and contamination. He also cosponsored the Grand Canyon National Park Enlargement Act, which the National Park Service states, “established that where impacts from aviation occur, natural quiet should be protected as both a resource and a value in the park;” In doing so, protecting the majesty of one of country greatest natural habitats. During a speech addressing a crowd of over 800 people on May 6, 1974, Senator Buckley was prescient and eloquent by pointing out how progress and the environment can evolve together, by saying, “We must learn how modern technology can co-exist with the natural world.” His appreciation for the environment stemmed from his love of bird watching, a hobby he still enjoys today. Through his efforts, those who share his passion can visit Gateway and have a perch to enjoy the more than 325 species of birds as they stop over as part of the Atlantic Flyaway which stretches from the north of Canada to the Caribbean.

In closing, I would like to dispel any news stating that my bill, H.R. 5958, seeks to rename the entire Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge or all of Gateway National Recreation Area in honor of Senator James L. Buckley. My bill seeks to honor Senator Buckley, a man who spearheaded the creation of this beautiful national treasure by simply renaming a visitor center. Senator Buckley shared his intellect and talent with not only New York, but the rest of the country. This seems like a modest tribute for a man who spent his careers serving others.


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