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Park Centennial Proposals Eligible For Matching Funds

Contact(s): Valerie Naylor, Bruce Kaye

Phone number: (701) 623-4466

Date: August 23, 2007

Two centennial challenge partnership proposals for Theodore Roosevelt National Park and one for Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site are included in the 201 proposals thatNational Park Service Director Mary Bomar and Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced at a press conference in Yosemite National Park today to celebrate the 91st anniversary of the NPS.

“The National Park Service has, after a rigorous review, certified these proposals as eligible for centennial challenge matching funds,” Bomar said. “And they are ready to go in Fiscal Year 2008 which begins Oct. 1.”

The proposals for North Dakota national parks that were certified as eligible are part of nearly $370 million of proposals eligible for centennial challenge matching funds.

One of Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s proposals is to work with Dickinson State University to digitize all park reference collections related to Theodore Roosevelt. The data will be combined with that from other institutions to provide opportunities to interpret the Roosevelt legacy to the public worldwide. The project is a portion of a much larger undertaking that includes Dickinson State University and the Library of Congress. Another project entails enhancing resource conditions and interpretation at the park’s Elkhorn Ranch Unit. The partner for that project is Friends of the Elkhorn Ranch, a partnership consisting of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Boone and Crockett Club and over 30 other conservation organizations.

The eligible project from Fort Union Trading Post is to establish an interpretive technology initiative to create and make available video clips of a wide variety of park interpretive offerings. Visitors would be able to download video clips and tour the site, while watching their own personal interpretive program. This would allow the park to offer a full range of living history presentations year-round. The partners for the project are Friends of Fort Union and Williston State College.

Director Bomar said, “The centennial challenge is a critical element in the National Park Centennial Initiative put forward by President Bush and unveiled by Secretary Kempthorne one year ago. The full centennial initiative is a potential $3 billion investment in our national parks, two-thirds of it a public-private partnership of matching money.”

“The President’s fiscal year 2008 budget called for an additional $100 million a year for 10 years to be dedicated to bolster basic park operations,” Bomar said. “Congress has included the first $100 million for operations in the fiscal year 2008 budget that awaits final passage.”

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, and Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site – the three national park areas in North Dakota – would all benefit from the operations funds. Theodore Roosevelt National Park would hire eight additional seasonal employees, Knife River Indian Villages would hire three additional seasonal staff, and Fort Union would hire one seasonal employee in the areas of interpretation, maintenance, and resource protection. Such funding assistance will allow for better preservation and conservation at each of these national park units, as well as allow for a more dynamic visitor experience.

“The second part of the initiative is the centennial challenge – a funding mechanism to match up to $100 million a year over 10 years of public money with $100 million a year for 10 years in private donations,” Bomar said. “Congress has yet to finish legislation necessary to create the public-private centennial challenge.”

Financial commitments to the first round of proposals exceeded the President’s challenge of $100 million. “We have about $370 million in proposals with $216 million committed from park visitors, friends groups, and other partners,” Bomar said.

“I’ve testified before Senate and House subcommittees and judging by the warm reception we received, I believe Congress will include centennial challenge money in our next budget. We look forward to working with members from both sides of the aisle to provide the key to the centennial challenge. When that happens we can make decisions on which of these wonderful proposals to begin in the fall.”

Locally, North Dakota Group Superintendent Valerie Naylor said, “The dedicated partners of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Fort Union Trading Post have committed matching money for the three eligible projects. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1 and we are ready to get these centennial projects underway. As part of the centennial challenge initiative, all three of the North Dakota national park units remain open to inquiries for additional partnership opportunities. It is truly a community endeavor.”

To be certified, proposals had to be imaginative and innovative, address critical Service needs, have a philanthropic partner, require little or no additional recurring operating funds to be sustainable, improve the efficiency of park management, operations and employees, and produce measurable results.

“There is a huge wave of excitement among National Park Service professionals and our partners,” Bomar said. “Last week, I sent an email to the men and women of the National Park Service to inform them of our announcement. One of the replies I received says it best: ‘This is thrilling! A win/win opportunity like we've never seen before. Thanks for the energy and vision for the NPS.’”

“That thanks,” Bomar said, “is for the many who worked to transform vision into action: Secretary Kempthorne and our friends in Congress, from both sides of the aisle who introduced legislation to support the Centennial. But most of all, our thanks go to park superintendents, friends groups, partners and an army of supporters.”

“When history is written,” Bomar said, “the Centennial Initiative will be second only to the creation of the national park system itself.”

The full list of centennial challenge-eligible projects and programs is available on-line at the National Park Service centennial web site

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