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Youth Education Program in Rocky Mountain National Park Gets Boost from the Centennial Initative

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Date: September 12, 2007
Contact: Kyle Patterson, 970-586-1363

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and National Park Director Mary Bomar announced at a news conference in Yosemite National Park recently that 201 park proposals have been selected for possible matching funds through the National Park Centennial Initiative. The Next Generation Fund, a campaign by the Rocky Mountain Nature Association on behalf of Rocky Mountain National Park, was among the listed proposals. The purpose of the Fund is to support youth education programs and opportunities at the park.

The National Park Centennial Initiative, put forth by President Bush and unveiled by Secretary Kempthorne one year ago, is designed to infuse both federal and private funds into the National Park System as the agency approaches its 100th anniversary in 2016.

"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," Director 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 in private donations," Bomar said. "Congress has yet to finish legislation necessary to create the public-private centennial challenge."

"I've testified before Senate and House subcommittees and judging by the warm reception we receive, 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, Superintendent Vaughn Baker said, "The Rocky Mountain Nature Association has committed to raising $11 million for the Next Generation Fund. We are excited about this partnership to expand youth programs and develop stewards who will help support national parks in the future, and have fun along the way! The new fiscal year begins soon and we are eager to proceed with this centennial project."

Curt Buchholtz, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Nature Association termed the Centennial Challenge proposal “perhaps the most visionary concept in decades” to help the National Parks. Philanthropy has been a significant part of national park history, he added, and now it is recognized as an important partner for the future. “Americans love their national parks. They are concerned about them,” Buchholtz said. “I think people will welcome this call to participate in partnerships.”

The Next Generation Fund is one of nearly $370 million worth of proposals eligible for centennial challenge matching funds if legislation passes. The Fund promises to expand a host of well-tested youth education programs at the park including, the Junior Ranger program, internships and fellowships for students, youth seminars, publications and the American Conservation Corps. Rocky Mountain National Park has established a professionally-run interpretive program that staffs visitor centers, offers educational programs, and promotes environmental education for school children quite similar to other national parks throughout the nation. The Fund would allow existing programs to reach more young people and create new and innovative programs to educate new audiences.

The full list of centennial challenge-eligible proposals and programs is available on-line at the National Park Service centennial web-site www.nps.gov/2016. For more information about the park's proposals pull up www.nps.gov/romo and click on the Centennial Challenge 2016 under Quicklinks.

Did You Know?

a photo of folks throwing snowballs in front of the snow-covered Alpine Visitor Center

The coldest temperature inside the Alpine Visitor Center during the winter is rarely below 20 degrees. The snow insulates the building when it is closed for the winter.