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Parks in Brief: White House, Denali National Park and Preserve

A rendering of the new White House fence from Pennsylvania Avenue. (Image/NPS)

A rendering of the new White House fence from Pennsylvania Avenue. (Image/NPS)

Construction begins on new fence for White House

The United States Secret Service (USSS) and the National Park Service (NPS) began construction on a new White House fence on July 8 that is expected to continue into 2021.

The two agencies have been working since 2014 to develop an appropriate barrier that will keep the White House and grounds as accessible as possible to the public while ensuring the security of the White House and its occupants. Both agencies are committed to respecting the historical significance and visitor experience at the White House and President’s Park.

Construction will take place in phases, beginning in the northwest corner of the White House grounds along Pennsylvania Avenue. The second phase will move to the northeast corner. In the coming weeks, construction fencing will enclose a portion of the immediate White House sidewalk and part of Pennsylvania Avenue adjacent to the work area.

The White House will remain visible from multiple views throughout the duration of this project. The NPS will continue to issue permits for demonstrations in Lafayette Park and the open areas of the White House sidewalk. Scheduled tours of the White House will continue as planned. Pedestrians and cyclists will generally have access to travel through Pennsylvania Avenue, but should expect occasional temporary closures to facilitate access for construction equipment and materials.

The project will encompass the 18-acre White House complex and involves over 3,500 feet of steel fencing. The current 6 feet 6 inch tall fence will be replaced by an approximately 13 feet tall fence with wider and stronger fence posts. The new fence incorporates anti-climb and intrusion detection technology and is designed to mitigate current and future security threats.

The design of the fence was approved in 2017 by both the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) and the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC). The contract for construction of a new fence and gates was awarded in June of 2018.

The design, materials and perimeter of the White House fence have evolved over the past two centuries. The first perimeter fence was a wood rail fence completed in 1803 during Thomas Jefferson’s presidency. The wooden fence was replaced by a stone wall and later an iron fence. Paint analysis indicated that the earliest color of the north iron fencing may have been a deep forest green. The NPS plans to preserve sections of the current fence in its museum collection.

Barricaded Subject Commits Suicide in Denali National Park

On July 7 at approximately 5:45 p.m. National Park Service Rangers investigated a tent near the railroad tracks by the depot in Denali National Park and Preserve. As rangers approached the tent, a white male was briefly visible through the tent screen before a single gunshot was heard. The subject did not respond to verbal calls and was not visible to rangers when the gun fired.

Additional law enforcement resources were requested since it was unclear who the subject shot at. With assistance from Alaska State Troopers, the NPS Investigative Services Branch and negotiation services from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a perimeter was set up to approach the tent with an Alaska State Troopers' armored vehicle. At 9:46 pm the subject was reached and found deceased. It was determined that he had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The investigation is ongoing. The name of the subject will be released pending notification of next of kin. Park operations that were impacted during the incident included the delay of the Alaska Railroad to the Denali Depot to ensure the safety of crew and passengers.

Information provided by NPS

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