National Park Service Gears Up for Centennial Challenge Projects
August 24, 2007
Contact: Jim Corless, Superintendent
, (906) 337-3168
(Calumet, MI) Keweenaw National Historical Park will benefit from the national proposals National 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 proposals as eligible for centennial challenge matching funds," Bomar said. "And they are ready to go in Fiscal Year 2008 which begins October 1."
Among the $370 million of proposals eligible for centennial challenge matching funds are several cross cutting projects that affect multiple parks including a national incentive to boost the Junior Ranger program and to increase the research in the "All Taxa" inventories, an ecosystem-wide look at species existence.
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.
"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. "We have about $370 million in proposals with not $100 million in private commitments but $215 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," Bomar said. "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, Keweenaw National Historical Park Supt. Jim Corless said, "I have the full commitment of the Director and the park’s Advisory Commission to work toward the goals of the centennial – stewardship, environmental leadership, recreational experience, education, and professional excellence. We have a great opportunity to reach toward these matching funds for the Keweenaw Peninsula in 2009."
"Our park has drafted a Centennial vision and a strategy to implement that vision," said Supt. Corless. "Through the Park, the Commission, and our unique network of Keweenaw Heritage Sites, we aim to develop and market a cohesive visitor experience flowing easily between national park visitor centers and interpretive facilities and the nineteen heritage sites, to develop sustained assistance programs for our preservation partners, to preserve key historic sites like the Quincy smelter, and provide enhanced resources for educators to teach local history in the classroom and at historic sites across the Copper Country." Corless added that, while the vision is still a draft at this point and requires refinement in consultation with the Commission and the Keweenaw Heritage Sites, it "clearly addresses the core purposes of these partnerships."
The list of proposals for 2008 – at 116 parks in 40 states and the District of Columbia – touches parks nationwide with a centennial effort to inventory every living thing in the national park system. The all taxa biodiversity inventory will include the few park holdings on the Keweenaw Peninsula.
To be certified, proposals had to address at least one of the five over-arching centennial goals. They also had to be imaginative and innovative, addressed critical Service needs, had a philanthropic partner, required little or no additional recurring operating funds to be sustainable, improved the efficiency of park management, operations and employees and produced measurable results.
Other certified eligible proposals:
• Lewis and Clark National Historical Park adopting the Class of 2016 with the goal of turning students to stewards.
• Additional student education through Acadia National Park’s "No Child Left Inside" project.
• Strengthening efforts to save Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles – the world’s most endangered sea turtle – with citizens assisting park rangers to observe and relocate nests on Padre Island National Seashore, the turtle’s most important U.S. nesting habitat.
• Restoration of more than 50 miles of important foot trails in Yosemite National Park.
• Climate change research of glaciers at Mount Rainier National Park, and
• Utilizing scientists and volunteers to study life along the Appalachian Trail seeing national parks as an environmental barometer.
"There is a huge wave of excitement among National Park Service professionals and our partners," Bomar said. "We will create park-based centers for Junior Rangers, implement cutting-edge energy projects like fuel cells and geothermal and build multimedia wayside exhibits that "talk" to visitors. This is a victory for national parks and over 270 million park visitors we see each year."
"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 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 proposals is available on-line at: www.nps.gov/2016