Secretary Haaland Visits Maryland to Honor Harriet Tubman Day

Interior Department

CHURCH CREEK, Md. – As part of the Department’s ongoing celebration of Women’s History Month, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland honored Harriet Tubman Day today with visits to sites that speak to the agency’s ongoing efforts to better tell America’s story.

Secretary Haaland visited the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park, where she and National Park Service staff discussed the life and legacy of Harriet Tubman, as well as the Department’s efforts to center equity and justice in its work. The Secretary toured the Harriet Tubman legacy garden along outdoor walking trails and received an interpretive tour to hear how the Park supports the deep connection that Harriet Tubman had with the historical sites in the region as well as other geographical locations along the Underground Railroad.

Secretary Haaland also visited the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, which surrounds the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park and preserves the landscapes familiar to Harriet Tubman as she grew up, escaped slavery, and returned to free others. The former homestead of Harriet Tubman’s father, Ben Ross, was discovered on property acquired in 2020 by the refuge in an area critical for natural marsh migration.

During the visit, Secretary Haaland met with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees to learn about the refuge’s significant contributions to the local economy and the ongoing projects to protect essential habitat and cultural resources from the threat of sea level rise. The refuge has experienced dramatic effects from sea level rise and nutria damage, losing over 5,000 acres of marsh since the 1930s. More than 270,000 people visited the refuge in 2021, adding over $7.8 million to the local economy.

The engagement between the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and the historical park is formalized through an inter-agency Agreement which allows for the historical park to conduct archeological research and public interpretation on the 11,750 acres within the refuge boundary. The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park was first established by President Obama in 2013 through his authority under the Antiquities Act.

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