Last week on June 16th, NPT was honored to present Senator Rob Portman (OH) with the 15th annual Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Created in 2000 to honor the memory and legacy of Bruce F. Vento, a 12-term congressman from Minnesota and champion of our nation's parks, the award recognizes an elected official who has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to preserve and protect our country's public lands, water, and historic resources.
Senator Portman serves on the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and is on the Subcommittee on National Parks; the Finance Committee and is chair of the Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth; the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; and the Budget Committee.
His numerous accomplishments include his work as the director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush, which was instrumental in creating the president's signature National Parks Centennial Initiative. The Senator looks forward to introducing new legislation to support the National Park Service's 100th Anniversary in 2016.
The Senator supported the use of Land and Water Conservation Funds to purchase inholdings at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Lands secured by the National Park Service at the Blossom Music Center, the old Cleveland Cavaliers Coliseum site and elsewhere were essential to maintain the character of the park and provide popular recreation opportunities for the park's 2.2 million visitors each year.
Senator Portman championed the creation of the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio – sponsoring legislation in the 111th and 112th Congress to support the inclusion of Colonel Young's home into the National Park System.
Most recently he supported Senator Ron Wyden's amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Resolution which would support full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund — and was passed by the Senate Budget Committee.
Recognizing the importance of connecting kids with the outdoors, in May 2015 Senator Portman co-sponsored the Kids to Parks Day resolution working with Senators Wyden, Mazie Hirono, Cory Booker, Martin Heinrich, Barbara Feinstein and Mike Lee — and also in 2014 working with Senators Mark Udall and Mary Landrieu.
Three 5th-grade students from Beacon Heights Elementary in Maryland, a Buddy Bison school, shared stories about their park experiences and presented Senator Portman with his own Buddy Bison and T-shirt. The students and audience were delighted when the Senator donned the shirt and clipped Buddy Bison to his belt before accepting the Vento Award!
"America's national parks are a cherished resource," Senator Portman remarked, "and I am proud to receive the 2015 Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award from the National Park Trust tonight. We're fortunate to have many national parks in Ohio with wonderful park programs, and I look forward to continuing my work to protect and maintain them."
This year's event was made possible by the generosity of our lead sponsors including Simmons Hanly Conroy, Georgia-Pacific, 3M, Hunton & Williams, Boy Scouts of America, Prudential Financial, Guest Services, NiSource, and the National Association of Realtors.