CNPSR Committee Updates
At the annual face-to-face meeting of the Executive Council in December 2011, Council members discussed the changing role and identity of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees considering the "second-century" goals and vision recently articulated by the National Park Service. The following committees were established to focus on important work for 2012, and the work is continuing into 2013.
The Park Stewardship Institute (formerly called "Centennial Institute")
The concept of the Centennial Institute, named for the upcoming 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, was first articulated in a CNPSR professional report written by Jerry Rogers in 2006 and updated by Rob Arnberger in 2008. While the underlying premise for the Institute remains, its establishment will occur in the intervening years between now and 2016 and its agenda will look forward beyond the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
The Institute Advisory Committee met in Washington D. C. on July 25, 2012 for a full day to deliberate on the need for such an Institute and articulate its vision and mission. It was agreed that the Institute should facilitate the dialogue on broad policy issues facing parks and protected areas. The Institute should look beyond the boundaries of parks and protected areas for issues impacting them. Further, the Institute should look at the role parks can play in a cultural and environmental dialogue for sustaining human communities and societies. The Institute should be a think tank facilitating discussion and projects on major environmental /cultural questions that impede the ability of parks to reach their significant potential to guide society actions on sustainable natural and cultural resource management. The current Institute concept focuses on creating and defining an American value system that portrays the national park idea as basic tenet underlying natural and cultural resource policy in American society.
At CNPSR''s December 2012 Executive Council committee meeting, agreement was reached on the name, vision, goals and objectives of the Park Stewardship Institute. It was suggested that CNPSR share its vision with other organizations. As a first step, Maureen Finnerty and Don Field attended the George Wright Society (GWS) meetings in Denver, Colorado this past March to discuss the idea of the Park Stewardship Institute. Participants engaged each other in a spirited conversation about the Institute's feasibility; vision and goals; and potential relationship to the GWS and other conservation organizations.
Organizers of the Institute will now map out which other conservation organizations do similar work to assess where there are missing elements in park stewardship. Institute representatives will meet with the leadership of these organizations to find the gaps and help refine the role of the Park Stewardship Institute. The Institute should be a value-added conversation in the field of park policy analysis; it should be complementary to, not in competition with, other like entities. After this further refinement of the planned Institute's role, the committee will develop a business plan. For more information, contact Don Field.
CNPSR engages primarily with issues that have system-wide implications, including proposed laws, national policies and regulations, and issues at the Park level where outcomes may set precedent or long-term direction. When indicated, CNPSR will help support park managers who make tough decisions consistent with law and policy in the midst of especially challenging political and/or media attention. A list of some issues we've engaged with recently (updated March 2013)
- Varied engagement with the Colorado State Director of BLM and others regarding apparent initial decisions to issue oil and gas lease sales around Mesa Verde and Dinosaur National Parks. CNPSR wrote letter to her applauding her decision to withdraw from sale certain parcels around Mesa Verde and urged similar withdrawals around Dinosaur.
- Continued engagement with NPCA and others tracking legal maneuvering following Secretary Salazar's decision to allow permit to expire for Drakes Bay Oyster Farm. Co-signed, with NPCA, letter to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging actions on their part to remove structures associated with Farm and enforce pertinent laws.
- Prepared Op Ed and also letter defending Superintendent of Fort Vancouver National HIstoric in response to widespread media and other criticism of her decision to terminate permit that allowed the Fort Vancouver National Trust to manage the Pearson Air Museum, which is located in the Historic Site. Unfortunately, local press did not print either of our submissions.
- Ongoing engagement by many, including formal comments submission, with Superintendent Dan Wenk and others regarding modification of the DEIS addressing new regulations on over-snow vehicles in Yellowstone National Park
Doug Morris chairs the Issues committee.
Call to Action
The CNPSR selected the NPS’ “Call to Action” as one of its priority activities in support of the Service for 2012, and efforts to engage on this front have continued into 2013. The Call to Action consists of 39 individual actions grouped under four general themes: Connecting People to Parks, Advancing the Educational Mission, Preserving America’s Special Places, and Organizational Excellence. Executive Council member JT Reynolds is actively engaged with a committee working on quality assurance for participants in the Youth Engagement piece. Further, a subcommittee of the EC submitted comments on "Revisiting Leopold" on behalf of the CNPSR. Discussions have been held with several other champions to explore CNPSR involvement, with no specific outcomes to date.
CNPSR members can get more information from Cherry Payne.
This committee is chaired by Gary Cummins, whose term on the Executive Council ended in December 2013. Gary has been contacting new retirees personally and alerting them to the existence of our organization. He inaugurated CNPSR's Facebook page, partially to communicate with NPS employees who are still employed so that they can get to know us. As well as posting on all CNPSR official communications and topical news items about the NPS, the Facebook team actively seeks social and personal content from current members, showcasing their varied "faces." While still in its early stages, the new page is gradually gaining a diverse audience. The membership committee is also currently working on an informational rack card / recruitment brochure that can be displayed in all parks and offices.