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Parks R Us!

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WHEN: AUGUST 24, 2000

TOPICS:
 * Legacy: The Crisis in Our Parks &
 * 84th Anniversary of the National Park Service

GUEST:
Paul C. Pritchard, President, National Park Trust

TRANSCRIPT

HOST TRAVEL Park: Hello everyone, we are pleased to welcome you to our chat series "Parks & People Live." The topics of tonight's chat are "Legacy: The Crisis in Our Parks" and the 84th Anniversary of the National Park Service. 
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We are honored to have with us Paul Pritchard, founder and president of the National Park Trust (NPT). Paul will talk about a second report on our national and state parks that will be released to the media tomorrow morning.

Paul Pritchard's achievements blanket the 50 states and reach around the world. He has been a significant leader in the establishment of over half of America's national parks. He founded and is the first president of the National Park Trust, the premier land conservancy dedicated to protecting America's parklands.
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Before we begin, I would like to thank Judi Ritchie (LDRS TRAVEL Judi) from the Online Campers, and HOST TRAVEL Jump for her assistance in tonight's protocol so that the conversation can go smoother. 
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So, let us welcome our guest, and begin our session. Mr. Pritchard, thanks for being our guest tonight and sharing your knowledge and expertise of our parks.

PritchardP: Hello everyone. With me is Susan Hawley who is the editor of the report. It is an honor to be here. This is our second Legacy Report on the National System of Parks, national, state parks and refuges, all places American's want to see protected.

HOST TRAVEL Park: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM AND NATIONAL SYSTEM OF PARKS?

PritchardP: Stephen Mather, first director of the NPS, in 1925 said that we would never have a great national park system until we have a great national system of parks. He felt as I do that people want all parks to be of the same high quality and equally protected. By the way, we at the National Park Trust include national monuments, refuges etc. in the national system of parks

HOST TRAVEL Park: WHAT'S UNIQUE ABOUT THE SECOND REPORT THAT IS BEING RELEASED TOMORROW BY NPT?

PritchardP: This one focuses on state parks, our first one focused on national parks, and this one includes some great new statistics For example, we looked at each state's public conservation areas, federal and state, and compared that to their population. The report has the results which shows a number of states are way behind in protecting open space for their citizens.

WShoots1: I'D MAKE A RECOMMENDATION, TO THE RECENT YOSEMITE STUDY TO HAVE HIGH SPEED MONORAIL TRANSPORTATION IN AND OUT. NATIONAL PARK DECIDED TO LET REGIONAL PUBLIC TRANS (BUS) HANDLE IT. Q: WHY CAN'T YNP TAKE CONTROL, REQUIRE DESIRED TRANS, ETC., TROUGH AN "AUTHORITY?"

PritchardP: Each park has its own challenges. Yosemite is a real tough situation. Some day in the future, the transportation problems there will be faced by most parks.

HOST TRAVEL Park: TOMORROW IS OUR NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM'S 84TH ANNIVERSARY. WHAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED IN THESE YEARS AND WHAT ARE THE NEW AND OLD CHALLENGES FACING OUR PARKS?

PritchardP: We have a lot to be proud of and the good news is our parks have the support of the American people. That is a tough job, the public managers have to make hard decisions and still keep the people behind them. We have most of the ecosystems represented in our parks and a good share of the cultural themes. What we need is to protect the areas around the parks and we need to support the state parks as the main provider of recreation park days in our country.

JRitc41846: IF THE NATIONAL PARKS HAD UNLIMITED FUNDING....WHAT PROJECT OR PROJECTS WOULD HOLD TOP PRIORITY AND DOES ONE PARK NEED FUNDING MORE THAN OTHER?

PritchardP: Top priority has got to be acquiring inholdings from willing sellers. The 20 threatened parks from last year still need to be resolved. I would personally think the Everglades is on the brink of loss unless we protect the headwaters. But all parks have their challenges. The world bank study on biodiversity targets said that the CA floristic provence needs better representation in our parks.

CarlWood48: WE MUST DO EVERYTHING TO PROTECT THE EVERGLADES.

HOST TRAVEL Park: IS IT POSSIBLE TO RATE ONE PARK AGAINST THE OTHER? IF SO, HOW?

PritchardP: There are some quantitative measurements but, in the end I do not think you can rate one park against another. The numbers that are important are for national parks - is the park large enough to sustain the ecosystem? Is there diversity well represented in the park? and for cultural units, are you controlling all of the external and internal causes of deteriation such as air pollution. For state parks, it is even tougher. Each state has its own agenda unlike the national parks. Some protect natural and cultural areas others are focused on "tourist destinations" facilities.

Parkslands: When we speak of legacy tonight we should also recognize especially one of the visionary contributions of Paul Pritchard to the NPS. Some years ago he encouraged the re-designation of Fort Jefferson NM as a National Park, and now this month this simple re-designation has had enormous significance as can be seen in the preparation of two major planning documents a GMP for Dry Tortugas NP and a plan for the Tortugas Ecological preserve which will preserve not only the historic sites, but also the rare and endangered coral reefs, marine life and the unique marine ecosystems of the area. The redesignation has made this further protection possible.

PritchardP: Much thanks. It was about all I could get out of that administration. We need more marine national parks. I am glad we have Dry Tortugas. And very proud of it.

HOST TRAVEL Park: WHAT ARE THE SOURCES STATE PARKS RECEIVE FUNDING FROM?

PritchardP: Most states have to rely on their state dollars. Some receive additional funds from taxes, state bonds and fees.

Eoksala: I DID NOT KNOW THAT THERE WERE PRIVATE LANDS INSIDE NATIONAL PARKS, CAN YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN?

PritchardP: The national land and water conservation fund is also supposed to provide funding. At least 50% of that fund is supposed to go to the states. Last year on 20 million of 120 million went to the states. We need this CARA legislation otherwise we will have no new parks and a lot of warn out parks.

JRitc41846: WHY DO YOU FEEL WE NEED MORE MARINE NATIONAL PARKS?

PritchardP: We tend to overlook the importance of our marine heritage yet it is filled with history and natural splendor just like the terrestrial part of our nation. A number of nations are setting aside marine national parks. AK has a great system of state marine parks. The US overall is behind in this area.

Eoksala: CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHY THERE ARE PRIVATE LANDS INSIDE NATIONAL PARKS? I thought that the government owned all of the parks.

PritchardP: Most parks are set up my legislation - federal and state Western parks tend to be carved out of public lands, so they are all public. But the Eastern parks usually are designated from private lands. Most states and many national parks have restriction on condemning land so the park managers have to wait until they have a willing seller which can take generations.

Parkslands: SOME YEARS AGO DURING THE PARKS CLOSURE MOVEMENT, THERE WERE SOME WHO CLAIMED THAT STATE AND LOCAL GOVTS COULD MORE EFFECTIVELY MANAGE PARKS UNITS. WHAT DOES THE REPORT REVEAL ABOUT STATES' RESOURCES FOR SUCH MANAGEMENT?

PritchardP: The report says that many states have challenges including pressure from urban sprawl, development etc. It does not address this issue directly, of the states taking over national parks. I remember this debate well, and do not recall any great enthusiasm by state parks to take over the national parks. With a few exceptions. All park managers seem to face a similar challenge. They never feel they are doing enough for what they have.

HOST TRAVEL Park: THAT DEALS WITH STATE PARKS AND THEIR WELL BEING OR JUST NATIONAL PARKS?

PritchardP: That dealt with both state and national parks. When I wrote the National Geographic article about the 75th anniversary of the NPS I decided to concentrate on the people in the service, not just the parks. Someone can do the same thing for the state park professionals.

Eoksala: HOW CAN I HELP WITH THE BLACKWATER CANYON EFFORT TO BECOME A NATIONAL PARK?

PritchardP: Glad you asked. Blackwater Canyon in now a state park under a great state park director. NPT and others want to include the state park and other areas in one national park or other large scale managed area. As a native West Virginian, I can tell you it is an incredible area and the experts are right... it has natural and cultural heritage that merit national park status. But we have a governor who is making deals left and right. People need to let WV's politicians know that they want a NP in this area.

Parkslands: WHAT IS THE SUGGESTION FOR SITUATIONS WHERE A STATE IS UNABLE OR UNWILLING TO ADEQUATELY PROTECT A PARK AREA (SUCH AS FORT PILLOW)

PritchardP: I don't know the specifics about Ft. Pillow but I share with you concern about some situations where parks - both state and national are not being protected. The only way we can assure that parks are being protected is to be sure that local citizens keep watch over the parks.

Parkslands: A CIVIL WAR BATTLEFIELD WITH STRONG AFRICAN AMERICAN PRESENCE.

PritchardP: It is a thankless job but commitment is a core principle of conservation another one is knowledge. You gotta know what you are talking about and you have to be there every day. The heroes of the park movement are those citizens who devote their lives to these two core principles. 

HOST TRAVEL Park: SORRY, MY EARLIER QUESTION MEANT TO SAY, DOES THE U.S. CONGRESS HAS LEGISLATION THAT DEALS WITH STATE PARKS AND THEIR WELL BEING OR JUST NATIONAL PARKS?

PritchardP: US Congress focused on the NP's. The states call their own shots. The Congress should put more money into state parks that are close to the people like the Urban Parks and Recovery Act of the 1970s That was a great program. 

HOST TRAVEL Park: HOW WOULD YOU DISTINGUISH THE MISSIONS OF OUR NATIONAL PARKS AND STATE PARKS?

PritchardP: National parks protect areas of national significance that are principally natural and/or historical. State parks currently protect landscapes that have areas of national significance, state significance and also recreation lands The NPs have toyed with the recreation concept but there is a lot of opposition to it. The NPs have enough to do - The US Forest Service and the Corps of Engineers provide recreation, and do a great job. We should not try to have one agency do everything, be it federal or state.

Parkslands: WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT BLM MANAGEMENT OF THE NEW NATIONAL MONUMENTS?

PritchardP: I am glad you asked that. I believe national monuments should be under NPS. That is not to say that BLM and USFS do not do a good job but I think it confused the various roles. Personally, I am not pleased with the inadequate protection this administration is giving the new national monuments, no matter who manages them. That is the one thing about NMs, the name does not necessarily mean the resource is protected. Again we have to fight for more protection.

Parkslands: ARE THERE SPECIFIC AREAS THAT SHOULD ALSO BE CONSIDERED FOR NM STATUS OTHERS?

PritchardP: I applaud Pres Carter's call to protect the Artic Slope aka ANWR I also would like to see a number of public lands set aside including expanding some existing parks and monuments. Sometimes though I think it is best not to discuss your personal agenda until your board or your organization thinks about it.

Parkslands: WHICH STATES HAVE THE STRONGEST STATE PARKS SYSTEMS? AND WHICH NEED HELP?

PritchardP: Strength can be measured in a number of ways, but I would particularly applaud FL, CA, CO, MO, and several others. Our report talks about these states and others and what they are doing to face some big challenges.

Parkslands: WHAT IS YOUR FEELING ABOUT SHARED MANAGEMENT FOR PARKS? AND AFFILIATED AREAS?

HOST TRAVEL Park: Well friends, the scheduled time with our guest is coming to an end. We will take the last one or two more questions now. 

PritchardP: I have not seen shared management work. I think we have to make the decision whether it is under one agency or another.

JRitc41846: FOR THE ORDINARY PERSON, POSSIBLY RETIRED RVer, WHAT CAN THEY DO TO GENERATE MORE INTEREST IN THE "CARE AND FEEDING" OF BOTH NATIONAL AND STATE PARKS?

PritchardP: Great question. Everyone needs to get their organizations like Good Sam club and other conservation dependent groups to realize that if they do not help save the resources there will not be those special places to visit. Once we get our own groups to support parks, we can start looking at why communities and businesses around the parks should be more engaged in protecting the resource. Those are just two groups. 

Parkslands: THANK YOU PAUL FOR YOUR CONTINUING COMMITMENT TO EXPANDING OUR LEGACY OF PUBLIC LANDS AND PARKS

HOST TRAVEL Park: Our sincere thanks to Paul Pritchard for taking the time to join us tonight. Good Luck tomorrow with the release of your second report! Hope we will have another opportunity to interact online. My thanks also go to many friends for their assistance in making tonight's chat possible.

PritchardP: Much thanks.

HOST TRAVEL Park: Last but not least, we thank every one in the audience for their participation.
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Remember, the Keyword on AOL is PARKS. 

PritchardP: Good night everyone and thank you.

HOST TRAVEL Park: Good night every one!
HOST TRAVEL Jump: Good night all. 

 

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