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Contact: Melissa Wilson, 406-888-7895
WEST GLACIER, MONT. - On Sunday, April 1, 2007, the National Park Service (NPS) will host a statewide listening session to seek suggestions and ideas on President Bush’s National Park Centennial Initiative which is intended to reinvigorate and strengthen national parks over the next decade. The meeting will be held from 7 - 9 p.m. in the Legislative and Judicial Rooms at the Red Lion Colonial Inn in Helena, Mont. The session will be an open house for the public to engage with NPS staff, including Laura Rotegard, Superintendent Grant Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, and Mick Holm, Superintendent Glacier National Park. General opening remarks will be delivered at 7 p.m.; however, the public may attend any time during the session.
This session is being held on the eve of the Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Recreation.
Over 20 listening sessions will be held in cities across the nation to gather comments on the President’s proposal to provide up to $3 billion in new public and private investment to improve and expand national park conservation, preservation and visitor service programs by the NPS’ 100th birthday in 2016.
The public is encouraged to take this opportunity to comment on these three vital questions:
● Think of your children and grandchildren enjoying national parks in 2016 and beyond. How do you imagine their visit? What are your hopes and expectations?
● What role do you think national parks should play in the lives of Americans and visitors from around the world?
● What are the signature projects and programs that you think should be highlighted for completion over the next 10 years?
Those unable to attend one of these listening sessions can log onto www.nps.gov/2016 to learn more about the Initiative and to submit ideas about how to make the National Park Service better able to serve its customers into its second century. Comments must be received by April 2, 2007.
"This is a great opportunity for the public to help shape the future of the National Park Service. Comments will be used to create a priority list of projects that will have a dramatic impact on national parks throughout Montana and across the nation," commented Superintendent Mick Holm.
Using public comments, NPS officials will identify signature projects and programs and set specific goals for more ranger-led programs, restored natural and cultural sites and greater volunteerism and philanthropy. They will present their recommendations to the President by May 31.
The President announced the National Park Centennial Initiative on the 90th anniversary of the National Park Service, Aug. 25, 2006. Department of Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne outlined the plan during an event at Yellowstone National Park the same day. The President directed Secretary Kempthorne to establish specific performance goals that will ensure the national parks continue to be places where children and families can learn about our nation’s great history and enjoy quality time together in the outdoors.
The initiative calls on the National Park Service to engage all Americans in preserving our heritage, history and natural resources though philanthropy and partnerships; reconnect people with their parks; build capacity for critical park operations and facilities and sustain them through the next century.
In his Fiscal Year 2008 budget, announced in February, the President proposed the largest increase in operating funds for the national parks (a $258 million increase over Fiscal Year 2006, for a total of $2.4 billion) and called for three new $100 million components that could provide up to $3 billion over 10 years in increased philanthropic, partnership and government resources for national park programs and projects.
"This is money above and beyond our regular budget," National Park Service Director Mary Bomar said. "It includes $100 million of additional operating funds for parks each year and up to $200 million annually for special projects and programs paid for by a combination of $100 million in donations and a federal match of up to $100 million."
"By the National Park Service’s 100th birthday," Kempthorne said, "the initiative will have provided significant resources to restore and better protect the parks’ natural, cultural, recreational and historic resources. There will be new and improved visitor centers, trails, campgrounds, and other facilities; more ranger-led programs; greater volunteerism and philanthropy. Visitors’ park experiences will be significantly enhanced. In short, our national park system will be prepared for its next century of excellence in conservation, preservation and enjoyment."