- Associated Press - Saturday, June 6, 2015

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) - Federal employees and Los Alamos officials have started meeting to discuss an ambitious plan: to create a new national park scattered across three different states and dedicated to the history of the atomic bomb.

This week, employees from the National Park Service and Department of Energy met with leaders in Los Alamos to begin tackling the challenges facing the proposed Manhattan Project National Historical Park, reports the Albuquerque Journal (http://bit.ly/1dlM9yK).

In addition to being located in non-contiguous sites, parts of the park are currently in secured technical areas off limits to the public at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Washington’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation and Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

“There are a number of sites that still have an active mission, so we’re still working through those challenges to how adjustments can be made,” said high-ranking DOE official Laurie Morman.

So far, the project is also unfunded.

Despite the obstacles, DOE and NPS employees say they are optimistic about the park.

“The U.S. government never did anything like the atomic bomb before either, but they figured it out,” said Sue Masica, director of the National Park Services’ Intermountain Region, said Tuesday in Los Alamos.

The NPS and DOE are planning to settle on a memorandum of agreement by December 19 to formally create the park.

Morman says the DOE’s fiscal year 2017 budget will include operating and maintenance costs for several park facilities that it will continue to own after the park is created.

Although DOE will own many of the buildings, NPS will manage the park and is tasked with telling the story of the Manhattan Project.

The process of creating the park formally began in February, when two dozen representatives of NPS and DOE met in Washington, D.C., to begin work on the required interagency agreement.

The group toured Oak Ridge in March and Hanford in April before arriving in Los Alamos this week.

“It’s clear we saved the best for last,” NPS Associate Director Victor Knox told a gathering of close to 200 people at a public gathering at the historic Fuller Lodge on Tuesday night.

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com

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