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Maybe next year for LANL national park

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LOS ALAMOS – A proposal to establish a national historical park to commemorate the World War II Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb has been rejected.

The Los Alamos Monitor reports that hopes that the proposal would pass this year were dashed when the U.S. Senate rejected an amendment attaching the bill to the National Defense Authorization Act.

The top-secret Manhattan Project operated from December 1942 until September 1945 and resulted in scientific and technological advancements that ushered in the atomic age and helped the United States win the war.

Heather McClenahan, executive director of Los Alamos Historical Museum and the county’s point person on the national park project, said supporters have been accustomed to disappointment in the 10 years since the legislation was first introduced.

McClenahan said supporters still had reason for optimism, considering the proposal had garnered bipartisan support and advanced far into the legislative process. “We still have three congressional delegations working toward it. So we still have reason for optimism, to think that 2014 will be our year,” McClenahan said.

Since the current session of Congress continues next year, the bill doesn’t have to be reintroduced or go back through committees.

“What I understand is that they just determined that it would not be the best place to approach the legislation, through the Defense Authorization Act. And so they took it out of there,” said Linda Deck, executive director of the Bradbury Science Museum. “So it’s not that they said, ‘No, it shouldn’t happen.’ It’s just that they took it out of that piece of legislation.”

Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico expressed disappointment in the proposal’s failure but vowed to keep fighting for passage.

“Many Americans are unfamiliar with the history of our country’s nuclear weapons complex because its creation and operation were shrouded in secrecy. But the work done at Los Alamos National Lab and at sites across the country profoundly changed the world, and it’s a story that deserves to be told in a National Historic Park,” Udall said in a statement.

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