Rep. Steve Knight (CA-25) has introduced legislation that would authorize a national memorial to commemorate the 425 Californians who died in the 1928 collapse of the St. Francis Dam in San Francisquito Canyon.

H.R. 3153, the St. Francis Dam Disaster National Memorial and Castaic Wilderness Act, would create a national monument at the site. It would also designate the area around the dam as federally-protected wilderness. The bill awaits assignment to committee.

“It is important to educate the public and honor the individuals who perished in the St. Francis Dam disaster,” Knight said. “This memorial site is a high priority for the Santa Clarita Valley, and I am proud to be part of the effort to make it happen.”

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel of Santa Clarita assisted Knight in drafting the legislation. She said the proposed memorial is long overdue.

“Families have waited long enough for their loved ones to be memorialized, and Rep. Knight has accepted that challenge,” said Erskine-Hellrigel, president of the Santa Clarita River Watershed Conservancy. “Not only has he worked hard to give these families closure, but he is protecting the last available pristine wilderness in the district for generations to come.”

The legislation has reportedly earned support from a broad range of local groups, including the Santa Clarita Historical Society and the city of Santa Clarita.

“The St. Francis Dam (project) has waited 87 years to be acknowledged by the American people for the great lesson that it has taught us,” said Santa Clarita Councilwoman Laurene Weste. “It’s a great honor for us to be able to acknowledge all those lost so their friends and families will always know their lives were not lost in vain.”

In other news from Capitol Hill, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) this week said the lower chamber will not vote on the Senate-passed highway bill.

“We’re not taking up the Senate bill,” McCarthy said. It is less clear, however, what the House will do to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent after its spending authority runs out today. Congress goes into summer recess this weekend. One proposal would allow the House to sit on their hands and try to force the Senate to pass the five-month extension that the House passed earlier this month. Or supporters could try to jump-start the process by considering a two- or three-month bill; this later move is said to be the most actively pursued by congressional leaders.

“When you look at the two- to three-month (extension) bill, it almost costs you the same as five months,” McCarthy said. “So why if you already have it sitting in the Senate—and it’s clean—why wouldn’t you take that?”