Monday, October 5, 2009

Second Century Commission releases recommendations for the National Parks

This was actually released a week and a half ago, but I just came across it today. The report, created by a panel of experts including former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner, is engrossing reading for anyone who cares about the future of the National Park System. Here's the full press release, with a link to the report itself. Volunteers are specifically addressed on page 31:

People who participate in service to the national parks gain a sense of pride and ownership that lasts a lifetime. Discovering firsthand that they can be agents of positive change for their communities and for the environment, they become the informed and engaged citizens our country so urgently needs.
WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today [September 24] commended the members of the National Parks Second Century Commission for their report on the future of the National Park System, which includes a wide range of recommendations for enhancing all aspects of our national parks.

“I applaud the commission for leaving no stone unturned in seeking ways to enhance our National Park System so that we might better honor our nation’s beauty, history and culture, conserve our treasured landscapes and their wildlife, and both inform and inspire the American people,” Salazar said. “The report provides a foundation upon which to build an even brighter future for our already outstanding national parks.”

The National Parks Conservation Association convened the commission, chaired by former U.S. Senators Howard Baker and J. Bennett Johnston, to produce a comprehensive report on the park system as it nears its 100th anniversary in 2016 and begins a second century.

The commission consists of nearly 30 national leaders, experts and thinkers drawn from a broad range of backgrounds, including scientists, historians, conservationists, academics, business leaders, policy experts, and retired National Park Service officials.

In its report, entitled “Advancing the National Park Idea,” the panel said that the National Park System is at a crossroads, facing challenges such as urgent environmental problems, a burgeoning population and critical needs in education. It called for a new vision recognizing the interrelationships between human beings and the natural world and the need for a sustainable relationship between people and the planet.

The report also included recommendations to strengthen the educational role of the National Park System, including new partnerships with the formal education community.

“National parks are no longer just far away places where people go to visit,” Salazar said. “We now have nearly 400 national parks, many of them in or near cities. We have a major role in supporting local communities and especially in fueling a passion our young people for our natural and historical heritage that will help them build a better future for our country.”

The commission’s report is available on line at

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