|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||March 26, 2007|
|Contact:||Catharine Gilliam, NPCA Virginia Program Manager, 540.460.5105|
Park Service Seeks Public Input on Future of National Parks in Virginia
National Parks Conservation Association Offers Five Ways to Fix Parks
Richmond, VA – At a public hearing tonight the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) offered a short list of five ways the country could fix Shenandoah National Park, Virginia’s Civil War Battlefields, and all of the national parks before the National Park System’s centennial in 2016. The event, hosted by the National Park Service, is one in a series of listening sessions nationwide.
“National parks should be a national priority, fully funded by Congress, as they protect the natural, historical, and cultural inheritance of our nation,” said Catharine Gilliam, NPCA’s Virginia program manager.
NPCA raised concerns that America’s national parks face many challenges, including an annual operating shortfall in excess of $800 million and a multi-million dollar backlog of maintenance and preservation needs. NPCA identified five ways to fix the national parks before the National Park System’s centennial in 2016, and is encouraging citizens to petition Congress to make national parks a national priority at www.npca.org/nationalpriority.
Tonight, Gilliam spoke about the importance of building a model “green architecture” visitor center for Shenandoah National Park to help strengthen the link between the park and surrounding communities. She also suggested additional park rangers be hired in order to add more interpretive and educational programs for park visitors. In addition, she stressed the importance of completing the acquisition of critical lands to protect Virginia’s Civil War Battlefields.
“With increasing development pressures, Virginia’s national parks and other protected areas should be connected where feasible,” said Gilliam. “Remaining unprotected lands inside park boundaries should be protected according to park policy and planning.”
The National Park Service is hosting listening sessions through early April in several dozen cities nationwide to offer citizens the opportunity to provide feedback on how America’s national parks should be preserved in time for their centennial in 2016—fewer than 10 years away. These listening sessions are part of the presidential mandate to inform the Administration’s new National Park Centennial Initiative, launched in February with a significant funding increase for park operating needs. People who cannot attend the listening sessions are encouraged to offer comments by April 2 at www.nps.gov/2016.