Salute to the Parks Awards Gala
Protecting America's Heritage
Protecting America's Heritage
NPCA'S William Penn Mott Jr. Park Leadership Award is presented annually to a public official who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the protection of America's natural and cultural heritage. The award was named for William Penn Mott Jr., a director of the National Park Service and an NPCA Trustee, whose lifelong commitment to the parks embodies the spirit of this award. See previous awardees >
2010 Awardee: Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Since being elected to the Senate in 1983, New Mexico’s Senior Senator, Jeff Bingaman has been a champion for protecting America’s wildlife, public lands, and national parks.
Concerned about increasingly blatant commercial promotion at events on the National Mall, Senator Bingaman was the catalyst for adoption of a balanced and reasonable set of guidelines governing potential commercialization of the national parks. When ill-conceived changes to the National Park Management Policies were proposed that could do serious harm to the protection of park resources, Senator Bingaman was at the forefront, challenging the revisions. The result was better and stronger policies benefiting park management. Now in his fifth year as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Senator Bingaman has continued to polish his credentials as a thoughtful, intelligent, strategic and effective leader in the fight to preserve and enhance our nation’s most precious places.
Last year, during difficult political circumstances, he pushed through the most significant expansion of protection for important wilderness and park land in decades in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. The legislation included 46 specific measures to improve and expand the park system across the country – from designating 84,000 acres of wilderness in California’s Sequoia/Kings Canyon to expanding the Minute Man National Historic Park in Massachusetts. Recently, he introduced bills encouraging natural-resource adaptation measures to address problems created by climate change, and to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
He is a recognized leader on energy policy, and in addition to chairing the Energy and Natural Resources Committee he also serves on Senate committees such as Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. With his record of accomplishment and years of experience, Jeff Bingaman remains a true gentleman who is liked and respected by his colleagues, staff, and many friends on both sides of the aisle.
This special award was created in anticipation of the forthcoming 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the creation of the modern National Park System in 2016. It honors a public official or private citizen who has made an outstanding contribution toward ensuring that the national parks are ready and well-prepared for their second century of service to the American people.
2010 Awardees: Co-Chairs, National Parks Second Century Commission
The Honorable Howard H. Baker, Jr.
Former Senator Howard H. Baker’s Political Career is distinguished by roles as Senate Minority Leader (1976-80) and Majority Leader (1981-85). Senator Baker served as White House Chief of Staff to Ronald Reagan in 1987-88 and Ambassador to Japan during 2001-2005. Senator Baker in cooperation with Senator Edmund Muskie (D-ME) wrote important air and water quality legislation during the environmental heyday of the 1970s; he also provided the vision for auto emission standards.
Senator Baker has received many honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984 and the Jefferson Award for Greatest Public Service performed by an elected or appointed public official, and honorary degrees from Yale University, Dartmouth College, Georgetown University, Bradley University, and others. He has also been recognized for his photography skills, receiving the American Society of Photographers International Award in 1993.
Baker is Senior Counsel on public policy with the law firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, and Berkowitz, PC, the firm his grandfather founded and where his father practiced before him. He is a Citi Senior Advisor and serves on several boards, including the Forum of International Policy and Museum of Appalachian Foundation; he is an International Counselor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He has authored four books. The son of two parents who served in the House of Representatives, Baker’s life has been about politics. In addition to his own family history, Baker’s first wife was daughter to Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen and his current wife is former Kansas Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum whose father Alf Landon ran for the Presidency. Identified as a “great conciliator” for his cooperative leadership style and keen legislative skills, Senator Baker used these skills to great advantage in his position as Co-Chair of the National Parks Second Century Commission.
The Honorable J. Bennett Johnston
Former Senator J. Bennett Johnston’s Political Career spanned 32 years, including 24 years in the United States Senate. Johnston served on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources from its creation and as its Chairman and Ranking Member for much of his time in office. He was either directly or indirectly responsible for all energy and natural resources legislation considered by the Congress between 1973 and 1996.
Under his Chairmanship, the Committee legislated a dramatic expansion in the National Park System and areas set aside as wilderness throughout the United States. He actively promoted the expansion of the nation’s wildlife refuges, including the preservation of more than 120,000 acres of valuable Louisiana inland wetlands, and the establishment of three national parks in Louisiana: the Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve, the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park and the Cane River Creole National Historical Park and Heritage Area that honors the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase. Johnston also served on the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Interior Subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the budget for the National Park Service. He was a strong advocate of funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Historic Preservation Fund and for the national parks operating and maintenance budget.
Following his Senate retirement in 1996, Senator Johnston formed Johnston & Associates, LLC, a professional government-relations consulting firm. This past year, Senator Johnston applied his vast experience as a legislator who helped create a number of new parks and who consistently promoted increased funding for the parks to his position as Co-Chair of the National Parks Second Century Commission. The quality of the Commission report is a testament to his leadership skills.
Bennett and Mary Johnston live in McLean, Virginia, and spend most weekends at Bear Top, their home in Rappahannock County, Virginia, adjacent to the Shenandoah National Park.
The Robin W. Winks Award is given annually to an individual who has effectively communicated the values of the National Park System to the American public. The award recognizes Dr. Winks’ long association with NPCA and his expertise on the National Park System. The award acknowledges the work of individuals contributing to the public education about national parks through works in the arts, media, or academia. See previous awardees >
2010 Awardees: Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan
The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, a film directed and produced by filmmaker Ken Burns in partnership with his longtime colleague Dayton Duncan, aired for the first time in September 2009. More than 33 million people around the country tuned in to their PBS station to watch the film as it aired over six consecutive nights. The film traces the birth of the national park idea in the mid-1800s and follows its evolution for more than 100 years. Using archival photographs, first-person accounts of historical characters, personal memories, and analysis from more than 40 interviews, as well as what Burns believes is the most stunning cinematography in Florentine Films’ history, the series chronicles the steady addition of new parks through the stories of the people who helped create them and save them from destruction. It is simultaneously a biography of compelling characters and a biography of the American landscape.
The film re-ignited a love affair between the American public and our national parks and monuments. This was evident at hundreds of events held around the country throughout 2009 that attracted thousands of people who wanted to catch an early glimpse of the film. This national tour culminated with a premier in New York City’s Central Park that was jointly sponsored by NPCA, PBS, and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
Ken Burns has been making documentary films for more than 30 years. Since the Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, he has directed and produced some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, including the landmark series The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, and The War. Dayton Duncan, the author of ten books, has collaborated with Burns as a writer and producer for 20 years, on projects such as The West, Lewis & Clark, and Mark Twain.