Mountain Mail Reports
A move is underway to have Trinity Site designated as a National Historic Park, which would allow visitors to enter the White Sands Missile Range site at Stallion Gate, conceivably on any day of the year when there is no missile test scheduled.
In its annual “Internet Christmas card,” the nonprofit Atomic Heritage Foundation is urging the National Park Service and the Department of Energy to again recommend a Manhattan Project National Historical Park to Congress.
The issue is expected to have strong bipartisan support from the congressional delegations of New Mexico, Tennessee and the state of Washington, according to the release.
“We are optimistic that the new Congress will officially designate the park at Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Hanford, Wash.,” the report said. “In addition, Manhattan Project sites such as the Trinity Site, Wendover Air Field, Utah, and others may become affiliated areas over time.”
Trinity Site, just off Highway 380, southeast of San Antonio, has long been viewed as the one “goose bump” site among those being considered because it is the site of the world’s first atomic bomb explosion. Other sites were largely manufacturing sites.
“The term ‘ground zero’ originated at Trinity Site, and has since become a part of the language,” said Ben Moffett, a retired public information officer for the National Park Service and a ground zero “survivor” as a resident of San Antonio when the bomb was exploded. “Viewing it, one gets the same chills as are produced at such other NPS areas as Little Bighorn Battlefield, Ford’s Theater, and Gettysburg, all part of the National Park System.” Trinity Site has been excluded from recent legislation on the Manhattan Project, in part because it is already protected since it is within White Sands Missile Range, but also because of the fear that recognition of it as an NPS area will increase efforts to open it to the public more than two days a year as is now the case. Proponents of opening Trinity Site on a daily basis, claim that White Sands Missile Range officials can close the park on days when they need to for security reasons, just as they have done at White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo.
They also argue that costs would come from the Department of Interior’s NPS budget, not from the military budget.