|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||March 29, 2007|
|Contact:||Cinda Waldbuesser, NPCA Pennsylvania Program Manager, 215.327.2529|
Park Service Hosts Listening Session in Philadelphia on Future of National Parks
National Parks Conservation Association Offers Five Ways to Fix Parks
Philadelphia, PA – At a public hearing tonight the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) offered a short list of five ways the country could fix Independence National Historical Park (NHP), Valley Forge National Historical Park (NHP), 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.
“Taking care of America’s national parks—the places each of us value—should be a national priority,” said Cinda Waldbuesser, NPCA’s Pennsylvania 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. 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 requested that the National Park System have sufficient funds to ensure that they are adequately staffed and maintained for future generations to enjoy. In particular, the system should include a corps of rangers dedicated to reaching out to the “Class of 2016,” interpreting our national parks, connecting parks with the next generation, and empowering members of the Class of 2016 to reach out to classes who follow theirs. NPCA also encouraged the Administration to complete protection of lands inside Congressionally designated park boundaries. For example, at Valley Forge NHP, the Park Service does not own 10 percent of the land within its boundary.
“National parks like Independence NHP and Valley Forge NHP are unique places where the history children learn in the classroom comes to life,” said Waldbuesser. “We must ensure the next generation understands their value and that our national parks are preserved and protected for visitors to enjoy.”
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.