Letter

February 15, 2007

Dear Members of Congress:

As the nation prepares for the centennial of the establishment of our National Park System, we must renew support throughout our country for our national parks, the superlative natural and cultural symbols of our shared American experience.

Fifty years ago, President Eisenhower launched Mission 66, a ten-year, $1 billion dollar program approved by Congress that upgraded park facilities, staffing and resource management capabilities throughout the park system to commemorate its fiftieth anniversary in 1966. We are now calling on Congress to make a proportional investment as we approach the 100th anniversary of the National Park System.

To revitalize the park system by its centennial and prepare it for the next 100 years, citizens and policy makers must take action today.

Accordingly, we urge Members of Congress and the President to engage in a sustained effort between now and the centennial of the National Park System and the National Park Service in 2016 to provide the resources necessary to protect our national inheritance and to ensure that our society receives the full benefit of our national parks for generations to come. This endeavor should:

  • Restore the health of the cultural and natural resources of our national parks by taking action to overcome external and internal threats.
  • Reinvest in our national parks by establishing reliable sources of sustainable public funding and strategic private investments.
  • Ensure that the National Park System continues to thrive and evolve to represent nationally significant landscapes and the full range and diversity of American history and culture.
  • Ensure that parks have current science and active research to inform decisions about park protection, as these decisions should be based on science and informed expertise to the greatest extent possible.
  • Reinvigorate the professionalism and efficiency within the National Park Service by facilitating mission-driven decision making, encouraging innovation and stimulating stakeholder collaboration.

From such icons of democracy as the Statue of Liberty, the National Mall, the home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the battlefields of Little Bighorn and Gettysburg to the natural and cultural wonders of the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Yellowstone and Yosemite, the sites managed by the Park Service capture the full diversity of the American experience. Together we can work toward protecting these world-renowned treasures so that our national parks can continue to inspire and welcome visitors for generations to come. Of all the things the federal government is responsible for overseeing, the National Park system represents one of the best investments the federal government can make in our future.

Our national parks-- from spectacular natural cathedrals to bucolic homesteads of great Americans to the hallowed ground of Civil War battlefields--should be honored, cherished and nurtured. For the centennial of the National Park System we should invest, restore and reinvigorate our parks and parklands for all citizens. The national parks present an opportunity for our national leaders to work together to forge a long-term bipartisan solution that protects the "best idea" America ever had. We urge you to help restore the full glory of these great places.

Sincerely,

The Honorable Carlos Alvarez, Mayor, Miami-Dade County
The Honorable Rocky Anderson, Mayor, Salt Lake City
The Honorable Cecil Andrus, former Secretary of the Interior and Governor, Idaho
The Honorable Bruce Babbitt, former Secretary of the Interior and Governor, Arizona
The Honorable Howard H. Baker, Jr., former United States Senate Majority Leader and former United States Ambassador to Japan
The Honorable John Baldacci, Governor, Maine
David Baldacci, Author
Nevada Barr, Award-winning Author
Michael Berman, The Duberstein Group
The Honorable James Blanchard, Ambassador to Canada, former Governor, Michigan and Congressman, Michigan
The Honorable Michael Bloomberg, Mayor, New York City
Julian Bond, Chairman, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
The Honorable Phil Bredesen, Governor, Tennessee
Lester Brown, Founder and President, Earth Policy Institute
Curt Buchholtz, Executive Director, Rocky Mountain Nature Association
The Honorable Dale Bumpers, former Senator, Arkansas and Chair, Senate Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands
Ken Burns, Filmmaker
The Honorable Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States
Rt. Reverend John Bryson Chane, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Washington, DC
Richard Cizik, Vice-President for Governmental Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals
General Wesley Clark, Retired
Walter Cronkite
Frederick Douglass, IV, President and Founder, Frederick Douglass Organization, Inc.
Roger Dow, President and Chief Executive Officer, Travel Industry Association of America
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Actor
The Honorable Kenneth Duberstein, former Chief of Staff to President Ronald Reagan
Dayton Duncan, Author and documentary Filmmaker
The Honorable Jennifer Dunn, former Congresswoman, Washington
Gary Everhardt, former Director, National Park Service
Richard D. Fain, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Royal Caribbean Cruiselines, Ltd.
Michael V. Finley, President, Turner Foundation, Inc.
Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University
The Honorable Shirley Franklin, Mayor, Atlanta
Gerard T. Gabrys, President and Chief Executive Officer, Guest Services Inc.
John Gage, President, American Federation of Government Employees
John Gans, President and Executive Director, National Outdoor Leadership School
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University
Bobby Ginn, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Ginn Company
Reverend Joan Gray, Moderator, Presbyterian Church (USA)
David Hales, President, College of the Atlantic
Bob Hansen, President, The Yosemite Fund
George B. Hartzog, Jr., former Director, National Park Service
Alan Horn, President and Chief Operating Officer, Warner Brothers
Frank Hugelmeyer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Outdoor Industry Association
Lee Iacocca, Founding Chairman, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.
Peter Illyn, Executive Director, Restoring Eden- Christians for Environmental Stewardship
Sally Jewell, President and Chief Executive Officer, Recreational Equipment, Inc.
Lady Bird Johnson, former First Lady of the United States
The Honorable J. Bennett Johnston, former Senator, Louisiana and Former Chair, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Paul Tudor Jones II, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Tudor Investment Corp.
Henry Jordan, former Chair, National Trust for Historic Preservation
The Honorable Nancy Landon Kassebaum, former Senator, Kansas
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Roger G. Kennedy, Director Emeritus, National Museum of American History, former Director, National Park Service
Gary Kiedaisch, President and Chief Executive Officer, Coleman Company
Stein Kruse, President and Chief Executive Officer, Holland America Line
Alan Lacy, former Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Sears Holdings Corporation
Ambassador L.W. "Bill" Lane, Publisher (Ret.) of Sunset Magazine
Norman Lear, Writer, Producer
Jim Lighthizer, President, Civil War Preservation Trust
Barry Lopez, Author
Thomas D. Mangelsen, Photographer, International League of Conservation Photographers Fellow, Co-Founder, The Cougar Fund
Alice Mathews, President, Garden Club of America
Peter Matthiessen, Author
David McCullough, Author and Historian
Bill McKibben, Author
James M. McPherson, Author and Historian
Stephen Mather McPherson, former Chair, NPCA Board of Trustees
Charles Merin, President, Travel Business Roundtable
The Honorable Robert H. Michel, former Minority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives
Richard Moe, President, National Trust for Historic Preservation
The Honorable Walter Mondale, former Vice President and Senator from Minnesota
William Least Heat Moon, Author
Greg Moore, Executive Director, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
David Muench, Photographer
Glenn Padnick, President, Castlerock TV
The Honorable John Edward Porter, former Congressman, Illinois
Roxanne Quimby, Executive Director, Eliotsville Plantation, Inc.
Robert Redford
The Honorable Nathaniel Reed, former Assistant Secretary of the Interior
Robert B. Reich, Professor, University of California at Berkeley, former U.S. Secretary of Labor
The Honorable William K. Reilly, President and Chief Executive Officer, Aqua International Partners, former Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
The Honorable Bill Richardson, Governor, New Mexico
Marie Ridder, Board Member, Trust for Public Land
James M. Ridenour, former Director, National Park Service
The Honorable Chuck Robb, former Senator, Virginia and former Governor, Virginia
David Rockefeller, Jr.
The Honorable Paul G. Rogers, former Congressman, Florida
Theodore Roosevelt, IV, NPCA Council Member
The Honorable Brian Schweitzer, Governor, Montana
Tom Secunda, Founding Partner, Bloomberg LLP
Theodore Sedgwick, Chairman of the Board, Civil War Preservation Trust
Jerry Seinfeld, Actor
Bobby Shriver, Commissioner, California State Park Recreation Commission
Tom Skerritt, Actor, Writer and American Rivers Board Member
Gus Speth, Dean, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
Bob Stanton, former Director, National Park Service
Gene Sykes, Managing Director, Goldman, Sachs and Company and Chairman, NPCA Board of Trustees
Lee Talbot, Professor, George Mason University, former Director-General, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, IUCN-Switzerland
The Honorable Lowell Thomas, Jr., former Lieutenant Governor, Alaska, and Mountain Pilot
Andy Todd, President and Chief Executive Officer, Xanterra Parks and Resorts
Ted Turner, Philanthropist
The Honorable Stewart Udall, former Secretary of the Interior
The Honorable Fran Ulmer, former Lieutenant Governor of Alaska
Bill Wade, Chair, Executive Council, Coalition of National Park Service Retirees
The Honorable Olene Walker, former Governor, Utah
The Honorable Mark Warner, former Governor, Virginia
Peter Wege, NPCA Council Member
Anne Wexler, Chairman of the Executive Committee of Wexler and Walker Public Associates
Doug Wheeler, Chair, National Park System Advisory Board
The Honorable Christine Todd Whitman, former Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
James Whitmore, Actor
Terry Tempest Williams, Author
Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor Emeritus and Honorary Curator in Entomology, Harvard University
Mrs. William B. (Ann) Ziff, Ziff Brothers Investments

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