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June 8, 2007
America Outdoors E-News
||Administration Proposes to Spend $3 Billion on
National Parks Over the Next Ten Years; Proposes Employee Exchange Program
with Private Sector and 3,000 New Rangers
||President Bush and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne recently
announced the President Centennial Initiative to fund "new levels of
excellence" for America's national parks. The proposal includes plans for
Congress to appropriate an additional $100 million per year for ten years to:
Some of the new rangers
will serve as interpreters and will guide hikes, according to the document. The
proposal will also give NPS a stronger role in marketing and promoting Park
visitation which is steadily declining. Recreation visits are down 1.3% for the
first quarter of 2007 compared to the same period in 2006.
- Hire 3,000 season
rangers, guides, and maintenance workers
- Improve landscapes
- Enroll children in
Ranger and Web Ranger programs.
The biggest challenge the initiative faces is
finding spending offsets to accommodate the increased spending. Congress has
vowed to hold the line on deficit spending and any increase must be offset by
cuts elsewhere or by additional sources of revenue. New royalties on hard rock
mining have been proposed. Still, Congress is resistant to committing to a
ten-year spending program unless trust funds are a source of
The new goals for the
national parks are organized around five themes each with a specific agenda.
The five themes are:
The First Steps
proposal asks for $40.6 million in funding for 2008 to hire 3,000 new seasonal
rangers and guides for interpretation, resource protection, and maintenance. An
additional $35 million will increase cyclic maintenance and $10 million will be
dedicated to historic structures. $1 million will be used to make connections
between youth and national parks through a Junior Ranger and Web Ranger
program. $20 million more will be used to fund cultural and natural resource
protection and preservation.
The Centennial Challenge
proposes to match $100 million in federal funding with $100 million or more in
cash donations through the National Park Centennial Challenge Act.
For concessioners and
outfitters there are some interesting proposals. The Environment Leadership
theme proposes to establish programs to showcase exemplary environmental
practices and increased visitor awareness of the how those practices apply to
daily lives. This education will probably involve a higher level of
interpretation to include information on subjects such as climate change. Use
of alternative fuels will also be promoted and each park will be required to
reduce impacts on air and water quality.
One of the more
interesting proposals for concessioners and outfitters is the employee exchange
program that will embed NPS employees in private sector operations to
familiarize them with the private sector practices.
Another important new
focus is the addition of a strong "recreation" initiative, which was
conspicuously absent from the new Park Management Policies that focused mostly
on the NPS' preservation mission. Among the proposals are to:
- Increase visitation at
lesser known parks by 25% through a national tourism effort;
- Rehabilitate over
2,000 miles of trails within or connected to national parks;
- Increase the number of
visitors that attend ranger-facilitated programs such as campfire talks, hikes,
and school programs;
- " Promote a "Get
Outdoors America" campaign to encourage invigorating outdoor activity.
||Population Trends to Reshape America
||The American population is expected to grow dramatically
over the next 40 years and the ethnic composition will change dramatically.
Predicting future demographic conditions is about as reliable as 50-year
weather forecasts. During the early eighties demographers were predicting
population declines and did not foresee the impact of immigration and increased
life expectancy on population growth. Some demographers predict that the world
population will peak in 2070 and began to decline although others dispute that
forecast, according to nature.com The current forecast for the U.S. population
is based on current trends as reported in the NPS Centennial Report to the
- The population will
increase by 40% from 300 million today to 420 million in 2050.
- The Hispanic
population will grow from 13% to 25%.
- The African American
population is expected to grow by 2% and the percent of white Americans will
decline by 10%.
- The number of
Americans between the ages of 65 and 84 will increase by 115% and the number
over 85 will increase by 390%.
- By 2025 75% of the
populations will live within 100 miles of the coast.
- Today's young people
spend an average of 6.5 hours a day using electronic media. 70% of their
mothers played outdoors everyday compared with 31% of their children.
||Jim Caswell Nominated to
||The former forest supervisor for the Clearwater and
Targhee National Forests in Idaho has been nominated by the Bush administration
to serve as Director of the Bureau of Land Management. Caswell currently heads
the Idaho Office of Species Conservation which coordinates state endangered
species policy. The Senate must confirm the nomination. The BLM director
position has been vacant since Kathleen Clarke left the post in February.
Caswell is well known and highly regarded by outfitters in Idaho.
Nomination as Assistant Secretary Put on Hold by Senator Wyden
||Lyle Laverty, who was nominated by the Bush
Administration to serve as the next Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and
Parks, was buffeted at his confirmation in May by two Democratic Senators over
ethical issues. Laverty was challenged by Senator Wyden (D-OR) and Jon Tester
(D-MT) over the purchase of a horse when he was Director of Colorado State
Parks. The horse was purchased by state parks to be used for Laverty to ride to
make connections with the riding community and a group that donated funds to
the parks. After controversy developed over the purchase of the horse, Laverty
sold it to his son-in-law for exactly what the state paid for it -- $5,000.
Tester thinks the horse should have been put out for bid. Laverty was also
criticized for a couple of foreign trips made during his tenure. Laverty said
he is on many national boards and state funds were not used to pay for overseas
trips. The parks division is being audited after accounting problems that were
revealed by Great Outdoors Colorado, the trust that disburses lottery
Other Senators on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
supported Laverty, including Senator Salazar (D-CO) and parks board members.
Tom Glass said Laverty was "a big picture guy who was a very good thing for
state parks". Attendance to Colorado State Parks rose by 7.6% during Laverty's
tenure while he coped with a 20% decrease in funding.
||Return to top of page
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