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NPS State Coordinators in the Midwest Region

Description: In a 1997 memorandum, the Midwest Regional Director outlined the duties of NPS state coordinators. Coordinators are to represent all NPS interests in their states, especially with the broad mission of NPS and reliance on partners, cooperation among state and federal agencies, Tribal governments, and advocacy groups.

Responsibilities include:

  1. Establishing and maintaining communications with the Congressional delegation. Seeking an annual meeting with the Governor or representative. Meeting at least annually with the heads of the state parks department and historical society. Liaison with other federal agencies in the area. Developing relationships with conservation leaders and others who have interests in common with the NPS.
  2. Generating National Natural and National Historic Landmark inspections and reports.
  3. Keeping abreast of state legislative activities and other political news that could affect the NPS mission. Monitoring the reactions of special interest groups and elected officials to proposed legislation affecting the NPS.
  4. Assuring that state coordinator activities are pursued in cooperation with other Superintendents within the state, and that information is shared.
  5. Joining state park and recreation associations, state historical societies, and being active in their meetings.
  6. Providing information to the Regional Director and submitting a monthly report regarding activities, including all contacts made with Congressional representatives, and their staffs, and state officials by the state coordinator and other Superintendents in the state.
  7. Coordinating projects for the Regional Director with other Superintendents in the state.

Geographic area covered: A total of thirteen states including Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

List of Partners and Relationships: Partners for the state of Kansas include Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Kansas Recreation and Parks Association, Kansas Historical Society, Tourism Industry Association of Kansas, Territorial Kansas Heritage Alliance, Kansas Preservation Alliance. Each park also has its own partnership network.

Accomplishments to date: The benefits have been mostly networking opportunities. The partnership with the Territorial Kansas Heritage Alliance led to a coalition of museums, government agencies, historical societies, chambers of commerce, and convention & visitor bureaus working on a proposal for a national heritage area, which would include NPS sites.

Key success factors:

  1. Participation, persistence and development of personal working relationships.

  2. Other Superintendents take the lead on some state initiatives, for example, as the only NPS site in Kansas which provides "recreational resources," Tallgrass Prairie represents the NPS on the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan development committee.

Frustrations: Political fallout from the previous relationship between Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site and its major partner still severely limits access to Congressional delegates, even though current relations between the state coordinator and Congressional staff are positive.

The state's budget crisis has severely limited the ability of state agencies to have active and productive partnerships. For example, the NPS state coordinator has offered training slots to the Department of Wildlife and Parks but they have not been able to send anyone because of budget and staff reductions and workloads.

Some partnerships/coalitions are unproductive because of conflicting personal agenda and the lack of collaboration.

Workloads leave little time to do an effective job as state coordinator on a collateral duty basis, especially in a developing park. For state coordinators whose parks are geographically isolated from their state capitals, establishing and maintaining working relationships is challenging. The size and state-perceived status of the coordinator's park can have an impact on the level of interest in working with the coordinator. The level of interest of a state Governor in the affairs of the NPS is individually based and cannot depend on when administrations change. Additionally, when administrations do change, relations have to be re-established with the new group.

Roles and working relationships of regional office staff often overlap state coordinator duties, and the work is not coordinated or communicated as it needs to be.

Most important lessons learned to date:

  1. While the position of state coordinator can be beneficial in terms of open lines of communication and governmental relations, the real partnerships and communication are mainly between individual parks and groups or agencies directly involved in working relationships. In that context, the state coordinator position could be construed as unnecessary or even counterproductive.
  2. In this age of media proliferation and instant communication, the information gathering function of the state coordinator might be obsolete.

What would you do differently next time: Since the state coordinator duties were outlined six years ago, frustrations and questions regarding the applicability of those duties today have arisen. A thorough review and analysis of state coordinator's responsibilities might be appropriate.

Suggested resource materials(related to the case study):

For more information:

Name: Stephen E. Adams
Affiliation: NPS Kansas State Coordinator
Phone/Fax: 785-354-4273
Email/website: steve_adams@nps.gov

Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)

Fundraising __; Capital Improvements__; Facility Management __; Trails __; Design __; Program Delivery __; Visitor Services __; Tenant Organizations __; Concessioners __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration __; Cultural Resources __; Education/Interpretation __; Arts __; Information Services _X_; Transportation __; Mutual Aid __; Fire Management __; Planning __; Tourism __; Community Relations _X_;

Other ____________________________

Prepared by: Stephen Adams Date posted: 8/1/03
Phone: 785-354-4273

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