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Contact: Len Bobinchock, 207-288-8701
(Bar Harbor, ME) – Engaging Youth: No Child Left Inside Initiative, “Car Free” Acadia, and Acadia Research Fellowships: Engaging Young Science Professionals in Park-Based Research in Acadia National Park are three of 201 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 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”
These initiatives are three of nearly $370 million in proposals eligible for centennial challenge matching funds. Acadia’s projects address a broad range of needs:
- The Engaging Youth: No Child Left Inside Initiative proposes to enhance current curriculum-based and junior ranger programs by launching a strategy for an education endowment in the park, providing scholarships to the Schoodic Education Adventure program, supplying stipends for teachers to attend park institutes, and expanding the use of interactive media and technology.
- The Acadia Research Fellowships: Engaging Young Science Professionals in Park-Based Research proposal would build on the success of the park’s current research fellowship program and continue to attract scientists and academic institutions to Acadia’s natural outdoor laboratory for research projects that help protect natural and cultural resources.
- The “Car Free” Acadia initiative proposes to provide the public with the opportunity to explore the park using a variety of public and private transportation methods, including private automobiles. Centennial funding would help construct connector trails, rehabilitate carriage roads, construct an intermodal transportation center, and implement other initiatives that ensure visitors continue to have a quality visitor experience for the next 100 years.
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 $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, Superintendent Sheridan Steele said, “Acadia Partners for Science and Learning, Eastern National, Friends of Acadia, and the state of Maine have committed matching money for the three projects. The new fiscal year begins October 1 and we are excited to get these centennial projects underway.”
The list of proposals—at 116 parks in 40 states and the District of Columbia—touches parks nationwide. 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.
Examples of other proposals include:
- Lewis and Clark National Historical Park adopting the Class of 2016 with the goal of turning students to stewards.
- 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.
- Utilizing scientists and volunteers to study life along the Appalachian Trail.
“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,” 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 at www.nps.gov/2016 .