Baker Center to Host Conference on Future of National Parks

KNOXVILLE — More than 100 years ago, America invented the national park idea with the designation of Yellowstone as the first national park.

During the past 15 months, the National Park Second Century Commission has been studying the role the parks play in our culture and establishing a vision for their future. The commission’s report was issued in September.

On Nov. 4-5, the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, along with the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), will bring together about 100 leaders from around the country to study the commission’s findings and begin looking at ways to implement its recommendations.

“The Second Century Commission has produced an important report on the future of one of America’s greatest resources, the national parks,” said Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr., co-chair of the Second Century Commission. “The Baker Center is honored to be hosting, in partnership with the NCPA, the first conference and public discussion on these recommendations. These guidelines will serve as a basis for moving forward in how we all continue to appreciate, promote and protect these national treasures.”

Sen. Bennett Johnson, who co-chaired the commission with Baker, echoed that: “We are delighted to share our vision for the national parks at this event. We hope to inspire our supporters and provide a productive dialogue that will help further report recommendations.”

Baker Center Interim Director Carl Pierce said he’s pleased this important event is taking place at UT.

“It is our hope that this conference … may lead to the formation of coalitions of organizations interested in participating in the implementation of the recommendations,” Pierce said.

Tom Kiernan, president of the NPCA, agreed: “This critically important conference … will hopefully turn the visionary recommendations of the National Parks Second Century Commission into reality.”

Jon Jarvis, the new director of the National Parks Service, will be speaking at the conference, along with many other members of the commission.

Attendance at the conference is by invitation only. However, the public is invited to view live webcasts from several portions of the conference:

  • On Nov. 4, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (EST), the public can watch Second Century commissioners present their recommendations about park system expansion; natural and cultural resources; education and engagement, and sustainable funding.
  • On Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. (EST), Commissioners Denis Galvin, former deputy director, National Park Service, and Dr. Stephen H. Lockhart, chairman of the board of Yosemite National Institutes and medical director of Surgical Services California Pacific Medical Center, will lead public dialogue about how recommendations of the Second Century Commission relate to the parks in our region.

To access the web casts, go to http://tinyurl.com/yfku2r9.

Webcast information and the Second Century Commission reports are available from the Baker Center Web site, http://bakercenter.utk.edu/main/event.php?key=209. The webcasts will be archived on this Web site, too.

The public also is asked to participate in an online survey about the commission recommendations. Find the survey at http://tinyurl.com/yzelu4w. Data from the survey will be collected and stored in a database at UT Knoxville.

The Second Century Commission established committees to study various aspects of the National Parks: education and interpretation; science and national resources; cultural resources and heritage preservation; future shape of the national park system; funding and budget; and visitation and public engagement. The commission’s report was assembled through five meetings at National Parks across the country, the work of these committees, public testimony and extensive public comment.

For more about the Second Century Commission, see http://www.visionfortheparks.org.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely, (865-974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu)

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