NLC Journal
Volume 1 Number 5

National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior October 16, 2001

Chairing her first National Leadership Council meeting, Director Fran Mainella shared expectations about her
working relationship with the NPS leadership body. Most critical to her are: open communication, a strengthened
relationship with Congress, proactive outreach to partners, and a full effort to meet the President's goals.

On August 1 in Washington, DC, Fran P. Mainella, the 16th Director of the National Park Service, was welcomed to her first National Leadership Council (NLC) meeting. After thanking Deputy Director Deny Galvin for his fine work as acting Director during the long transition, she discussed her vision of the NPS and her expectations of the NLC. Among other things, she stressed the critical importance of:

  • Meeting the President's goals of (1) eliminating the maintenance backlog, and (2) furthering the Natural Resource Challenge (NRC), and (3) working in partnership with the states on the Land and Water Conservation Fund. These are items where the Administration is pledged to deliver, and the NPS must do all it can to assist those efforts.
  • An even stronger relationship with the Congress. Director Mainella said that Capitol Hill should be kept fully informed of NPS actions and direction. The Service - while adhering to its mission - should welcome the opportunity to work with and assist Members of Congress.
  • Good interaction with the other Interior bureaus. Just as good interaction with Congress will be beneficial, so too the wealth of knowledge and expertise from which the NPS can draw from its fellow DOI bureaus.
  • Full internal communication. The Director said neither she nor any other NLC member should appear surprised or unaware of Service action due to a lack of communication. She also said it was absolutely essential that NLC members communicate with NPS employees, whom she characterized as the agency's main asset.
  • Competitive sourcing is a matter of prime importance to the Administration. She is confident that the NPS can go about this in a responsible and caring way, so that personnel are not unduly affected.
  • Proactive outreach to partners. Director Mainella said NPS outreach efforts should be directed across the spectrum of interests, and must include those groups and organizations that may, in the end, oppose final NPS action. She cited the outstanding recent example regarding sports fishermen on the new "no-take" regulations at Dry Tortugas N.P., where the NPS stressed that the policy was designed to ensure "fishing forever."
  • Even more volunteer involvement. While she is aware that huge numbers of volunteers currently assist the NPS, the Director would like to see even more, as she believes volunteerism is vitally important not only in helping the Service to accomplish its mission, but also strengthens our communities.
  • Good interaction with partners. Director Mainella said the Service should not hesitate to work with those organizations that can help it advance its mission, as this will allow the Service to do more.
  • A Park Service that is as efficient and effective as possible. The NPS, she said, does stupendous work; but it must always strive to do so with a minimum of waste, and with the taxpayer in mind.

The Director said that she looked forward to working with her colleagues. The Director's message to all employees can be viewed at

Rethinking the National Parks for the 21st Century, a report of the National Park System Advisory Board, was presented to Director Mainella at a ceremony at the National Geographic Society on August 1, just prior to the convening of the NLC meeting. All NLC members were in attendance.

At their meeting, NLC members engaged in a wide-ranging discussion of the report. The goal was not only to consider "next steps" in implementation, but also to envisage the wider implications. The NLC acknowledged that the report was the result of a tremendous contribution of time and energy by private individuals preeminent in many walks of life, and, as such, was an outstanding example of citizen involvement in supporting the work of the National Park Service.

The report stresses the growing importance of the national park system given the accelerating rate of change in the environment and in American society. Likewise, it calls upon the NPS to work beyond park boundaries, in conjunction with partners. It observes that the educational role of the National Park Service is crucial, stating that the learning opportunities available in parks are unique and powerful. It suggests growing opportunities for the Service to serve the American public. Parks provide each American with the opportunity to fill in the gaps of their knowledge of the country's history, in a personal way, emphasizing the importance and values of place. The report calls upon the Park Service to be a leader in the field of outdoor recreation and open space conservation. The report is viewed as a re-expression of what the Service is and can be.

The NLC organized to develop possible actions to respond to the report's recommendations. Director Mainella asked that working groups report on their efforts in future NLC meetings. While work proceeds to identify implementation strategies, the NLC agreed:

  • Environmentally friendly visitor access to the parks is a must;
  • Recreation must be an integral part of what the Service does;
  • The report comports very well with the President's National Parks Legacy Project; and
  • The National Park Service must reflect the changing make-up of the American populace, not only in the stories it tells, but also in the storytellers. The report is available on the web, at

Some months ago, the National Leadership Council announced that it was determined "to strengthen itself as a leadership body" and would "work with experts in the fields of management and organizational change" (NLC Journal, 2nd edition). At its August meeting, the NLC considered criteria for selecting organizational development assistance. A short list of seven candidates for the position of organizational development consultant was reviewed. Interviews have since begun, and are continuing apace.

Gary Machlis (NPS Chief Social Scientist) presented results of the NPS Comprehensive Survey of the American Public, conducted by Northern Arizona University for the NPS Social Science Program. Randomly selected adults (3,515) were surveyed by telephone in the spring of 2000. The survey dealt with a range of topics important to the NPS including: visitor and non-visitor demographics; barriers to visiting NPS units; public attitudes toward fees, resource management policies, reservations systems, and park planning; the public "image" of the NPS; and public perceptions of problems parks face.

A technical report provides data on these topics for recent visitors, past visitors, non-visitors, and the general public (the preceding three categories combined). National data and data for each NPS region were presented, including these findings:

  • 32% of the American public have visited an NPS unit within the last two years;
  • 15% of the American public have never visited a unit of the NPS;
  • The most common barriers to visiting NPS units more often were perceived by the American public as (a) not enough information about NPS units, (b) length of time to get to NPS units, and (c) the costs of hotels/food;
  • 86% of recent visitors believe fees paid were either "just about right" or "too little"; and
  • 48% of the American public supports removing from parks animals not naturally found in park boundaries, 42% support leaving them alone, and 10% don't know.

A wide range of information on visitors, non-visitors, and the public's opinions concerning national parks was presented. Vigorous discussion ensued regarding what the data means for NPS managers and partners, and the future of the national park system. The full report can be found under "Technical Assistance at

The NLC considered the policy issues involved with establishing and maintaining an NPS Service-wide identity system and the related issues of respectfully recognizing co-managed areas within that identity system. Discussion focused on what the Service may want to "require," "allow," or "restrict" in terms of using and sharing our identity, and how much "national guidance" should be exercised over identity issues versus the degree of "local preference" that should be permitted. The discussion reinforced that our current identity system consists of the black band, the arrowhead, and special typefaces that uniquely identify the NPS as an organization in the public's eye. Options of sharing all those identity elements, or just our "mark" (the arrowhead), or modifying colors to recognize co-managed areas, were also examined.

The NLC agreed to discuss the issue further in the context of four specific categories:

  1. NPS-operated sites
  2. Co-managed areas where the NPS maintains a uniformed presence
  3. Trails
  4. All other types of areas

Additionally, the NLC agreed that representatives should meet with Parks Canada, which has been managing an identity program for the last five years, to learn from its experience. The NLC was also asked to consider how the identity system should be applied to the worldwide web components of our communication strategy, as well as how to provide the training the field needs to successfully implement the identity system. More information can be found at




Fran Mainella

Denis (Deny) Galvin
Deputy Director

Sue Masica
Associate Director

Katherine (Kate) Stevenson
Associate Director
Cultural Resource Stewardship
and Partnerships

Michael (Mike) Soukup
Associate Director
Natural Resources
Stewardship and Science

Richard (Dick) Ring
Associate Director
Park Operations
and Education

Terrel (Terry) Emmons
Associate Director
Professional Services

Robert L. (Rob) Arnberger
Regional Director

Karen P. Wade
Regional Director

William (Bill) Schenk
Regional Director

Terry R. Carlstrom
Regional Director
National Capital

Marie Rust
Regional Director

John J. Reynolds
Regional Director
Pacific West

Jerry Belson
Regional Director