The superintendents and senior leadership of the National Park Service will gather in Utah next month for a two-day meeting focused on the agency’s second century of service and the challenges it will face.
The NPS Superintendents Summit 2008 will be held July 16-17, 2008, at the Cliff Lodge in Snowbird, just outside Salt Lake City. About 450 employees will attend, including the superintendents who manage the 391 sites in the National Park System.
National Park Service Director Mary A. Bomar said: “As we approach our 100th anniversary in 2016, we have three significant tasks ahead of us: reconnecting Americans with their national parks, increasing the capacity of the national park system, and developing park leaders for our second century. The Summit will focus on these themes.”
The rapidly diversifying American population, their habits and interests will be addressed by California State University at Chico professor Dr. Emilyn Sheffield on July 16. Now chair of the largest undergraduate recreation department in the West, Sheffield has worked for more than 20 years with partners to connect people to the parks and protected places. Her "trends work" helps local, state, and federal agencies and conservation organizations respond more effectively to changing demographic and lifestyle trends. She is currently exploring community engagement strategies in volunteerism and conservation stewardship at the Golden Gate National Parks in San Francisco.
Several smaller sessions will follow on the afternoon of July 16, focusing on topics such as youth programs, emerging technologies, and citizen stewardship.
The July 16 program will be opened by Director Bomar, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, and U.S. Forest Service Chief Gail Kimball (the meeting is being held within the Wasatch-Cache National Forest). Department of the Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne is also an invited speaker that morning.
Charles Jordan, Chairman of The Conservation Fund, will address an evening session on July 16. His presentation is titled “All Hands on Deck: Engaging All Citizens in Conservation.”
“Engaging volunteers and other partners is one of the ways we can increase the capacity of the National Park Service,” said Bomar. “Charles Jordan has had a rich and varied career in parks and recreation, from city parks to presidential commissions, all with a goal of increasing participation and engaging the American public.”
The second day’s program will look at both the Service’s traditions, and toward its Centennial. Filmmaker Dayton Duncan will preview and discuss an upcoming 12-part production with Ken Burns on the national parks. Other speakers will focus on the 2016 NPS Centennial, including increasing the agency’s capacity through funding and private philanthropic partnerships.
Superintendent meetings are rare for the National Park Service. This is the third such national gathering in two decades. Conference chair Joan Anzelmo, superintendent at Colorado National Monument, noted that the last similar conference was in 2000 in Missouri and then back in 1988 in Wyoming.
“The National Park Service is a $2.3 billion organization with 275 million visitors and units spread across the nation,” Anzelmo said. “This type of gathering helps our leadership to understand issues facing the system as a whole and how fundamental national changes are going to affect park management and the mission of the National Park Service.”