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Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005
An education program about Elwha ecosystem restoration and a project to monitor a proposed fisher reintroduction are two of 201 proposals announced today by National Park Service Director Mary Bomar and Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne at a press conference in Yosemite National Park 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.
Development of a comprehensive, national-level education program about restoration of the Elwha River is one of nearly $370 million worth of proposals eligible for centennial challenge matching funds. Removal of two dams on the Elwha River will restore the river to its natural free-flowing state, allowing all five species of Pacific salmon and other anadromous fish to once again reach habitat and spawning grounds.
With financial support pledged by park partner Washington’s National Park Fund and in collaboration with Olympic Park Institute and Western Carolina University, the park will expand its education programs about this landmark restoration project. New web-based programs, including online curriculum, videos and podcasts will be added to the park’s website and new publications, exhibits and ranger-led education programs will be developed.
“Thanks to our partners, we look forward to giving all Americans an opportunity to learn about Elwha restoration,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Bill Laitner.
The second Olympic project proposal, to evaluate the success of a proposed reintroduced fisher population was also announced today. Fishers, housecat-sized members of the weasel family, are native to the forests of Washington, but no longer exist in the state due to over trapping and habitat loss.
“Although this project is still in the planning stages, we are grateful for our partners’ support should we move forward after public review and environmental analysis,” said Laitner. Washington’s National Park Fund and Conservation Northwest have pledged funding support for monitoring the potential reintroduced fisher population. An environmental assessment analyzing the effects of reintroducing fishers to Olympic National Park will be released this September for public review and comment.
“Washington’s National Park Fund is pleased to partner with Olympic National Park in obtaining private, philanthropic support for these two important projects, said Eleanor Kittelson, Executive Director of The Fund. The Fund is the official fundraising partner for Olympic, Mount Rainier and North Cascades National Parks and offers opportunities for private citizens to support their parks through contributions. For more information about The Fund, including information about how to support Washington’s national parks through the special National Park license plate, people can visit The Fund’s website at www.wnpf.org.
Conservation Northwest works to protect and restore the wildlands and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest. More information is available online at www.conservationnw.org.
The centennial initiative has two major components. The first, as outlined in the President’s fiscal year 2008 budget, calls for an additional $100 million a year for 10 years 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. At Olympic, this part of the initiative would allow for additional seasonal employees to present education programs, and provide routine maintenance and emergency response.
“The second part of the initiative is the centennial challenge – a funding mechanism that would match up to $100 million a year over 10 years in public money with $100 million a year for 10 years in private donations,” Bomar said. “Congress has yet to finish the legislation necessary to create the public-private centennial challenge.”
Other proposals announced today include:
- Increase solar energy use at Mount Rainier National Park
- Create a Junior Ranger program at North Cascades National Park
- Wetland restoration at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
“When history is written,” Bomar said, “the Centennial Initiative will be second only to the creation of the national park system itself.”
More information and the complete list of centennial challenge-eligible projects and programs is available on-line at the National Park Service centennial web site.