Second Century Commission Will Hold Final Meeting at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   May 28, 2009
Contact:   Mike Bento at (202) 291-3117 or Mike@SakonnetGroup.com


Second Century Commission Will Hold Final Meeting at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Commission Charting Vision for the Future of the National Parks

Washington, D.C. – The National Parks Second Century Commission will conduct its fifth and final meeting at Great Smoky Mountains National Park June 2-4, 2009.

Chaired by former Senators J. Bennett Johnston, Jr. (D-LA) and Howard H. Baker, Jr. (R-TN), the National Parks Second Century Commission is a first-in-a-generation effort to examine the national parks today, and chart a vision for their second century of service to the nation. The commission consists of nearly 30 national leaders and experts with a broad range of experience, including scientists, historians, conservationists, academics, business leaders, policy experts, and retired National Park Service executives.

“I’m pleased to welcome the commission to the Great Smoky Mountains which have always inspired and sustained me," said Howard Baker, commission co-chair.  “As we finalize our recommendations for strengthening the national parks, I’m confident that we’ll be guided by the majesty and meaning of the Smokies.” 

 “Over the past year, we’ve examined a variety of crucial issues and heard from a range of national park stakeholders.  At this final meeting, the commission will deliberate and develop our final recommendations for the future of the national parks,” said Bennett Johnston, commission co-chair.

Great Smoky Mountains Superintendent, Dale A. Ditmanson, said “The staff and partners at the Smokies are honored to host the commissions’ final meeting in the same year that we celebrate the park’s 75th Anniversary. We face the full slate of challenges that managers face throughout the Park Service: air and water quality issues, exotic plants, animals, and diseases, aging infrastructure and development pressure on our boundaries. If there is one place to study all the issues facing the National Park Service, as well as some innovative response to those issues, we feel that the Smokies is that place.”

The National Parks Second Century Commission has held four meetings: in August 2008 at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California: in October 2008 at Lowell National Historical Park in Massachusetts; in January 2009 at Yellowstone National Park; and in March 2009 at Gettysburg National Military Park.  The commission has heard from a range of subject matter experts and park managers, and held three town hall events to solicit feedback from the general public over the course of their 12-month effort. 

Working through six committees, the commission has focused on: education and interpretation; science and natural resources; cultural resources and heritage protection; the future shape of the system; funding and budget; and visitation and public engagement.

The commission’s work will culminate with a report with recommendations to Congress and the Obama Administration in September 2009, coinciding with the PBS broadcast of the Ken Burns documentary on the national parks.   

The commission is being convened by the non-profit National Parks Conservation Association, the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System.

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