|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||March 27, 2007|
|Contact:||Joy Oakes, NPCA Senior Regional Director, 454.3386 or 202.329.6815|
Park Service Hosts Listening Session in Arlington to Discuss Future of National Parks
National Parks Conservation Association Offers Five Ways to Fix Parks
Arlington, VA – At a public hearing tonight the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) offered a short list of five ways the country could fix the National Mall, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, and all of the national parks by 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 are a critical element of our nation’s identity, as they preserve our American history,” said Joy Oakes, NPCA’s Mid-Atlantic senior director. “Taking care of national parks should be a national priority.”
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. The organization has identified five ways to fix the national parks by 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, NPCA encouraged the Administration to consider ambitious, visionary, system-wide priority projects and programs with time-stamped performance goals. This includes full funding by the federal government with an adequate number of park rangers for interpretation, protection, and maintenance. In addition, NPCA suggested that national parks throughout the system implement ways to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions due to rising energy costs and sea levels.
“The National Park Centennial Initiative is an excellent step towards restoring our national parks and the experiences of visitors in them,” said Oakes.
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.