American Recreation Coalition’s Podcast Project Selected As National Park Service Centennial Challenge Project

April 25, 2008 - (Washington, D.C.) Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne joined National Park Service (NPS) Director Mary Bomar, a potent group of Members of Congress and a large group of park supporters to announce 110 national park projects and programs, funded by private and public funds, under President Bush’s National Park Centennial Challenge Initiative. For 2008, Congress appropriated $24.6 million for the Centennial Challenge Fund and the private sector responded with nearly $27 million in matching contributions, totaling $51 million for the projects announced on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Secretary Kempthorne thanked friends of the parks and concessioners, “who make our parks great places to visit.” He welcomed more than 150 4th grade students – high school class of 2016 – who participated in the rollout ceremony, noting that their graduation will coincide with the National Park Service’s 100th Anniversary. “We are working hard to ensure that the students today will inherit these national treasures, our national parks, in fine shape,” said Secretary Kempthorne.

A series of park podcasts designed and co-sponsored by the American Recreation Coalition (ARC), the National Tour Association and Eastern National were announced as one of the Centennial Initiative projects selected from hundreds of projects and programs initially submitted in 2007. “We are thrilled to be selected as one of the first round of Centennial projects. The 3-8 minute multi-lingual, audio-visual podcasts utilize technology to connect people to the parks, increase visitor satisfaction, understanding and appreciation of the parks, and offer fun and educational tools to re-engage youth in the parks,“ explained ARC President Derrick Crandall. The George Washington Memorial Parkway and the C&O Canal National Historic Park will be featured in the podcasts available for Internet download on iTunes, park websites and other locations.

NPS Director Mary Bomar thanked President Bush and Secretary Kempthorne for their commitment to the national parks and the Congress for “priming the pump” with the initialCentennial funding. House Natural Resources Committee Chair U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) expressed Congressional commitment to supporting the Centennial and announced a mark-up of the Centennial Challenge bill on May 7th. The bi-partisan Congressional supporters at the Centennial event included House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), both Colorado Senators, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, the Ranking Member of the House Parks Subcommittee and the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Parks Caucus. Each Member of Congress applauded Secretary Kempthorne’s active leadership and pledged his own support to conserve, preserve and enhance the enjoyment of our national parks.

Supporters of the NPS Centennial Fund legislation were encouraged by key park advocates from the National Parks Conservation Association, the American Recreation Coalition and the National Recreation and Park Association to contact Members of Congress and urge rapid action on S. 2817 and the Substitute for H.R. 3094, noting that the excitement of the Capitol Hill announcement would not be repeated without action by the Congress in 2008. If enacted, the matching federal funds under the Centennial Challenge program would swell to $100 million annually for 10 years.

A special treat for the event was a starring role for one of the 1936 “red buses” from Glacier National Park in Montana. The buses, operated by Glacier Park, Inc, carry thousands of guests to the park on the Going to the Sun Highway each year. The buses were recently restored, updated and returned to service through the cooperative efforts of Glacier Park, Inc., Ford Motor Company and the National Park Foundation. The “red bus” brought Secretary Kempthorne, National Park Service Director Mary Bomar and others to the U.S. Capitol. Also playing an important role on the warm day were ice cream and beverages provided by Unilever, a strong supporter of both the National Park Foundation and the National Park Hospitality Association.

For a complete list of the National Park Service Centennial Challenge projects and programs funded for 2008, please visit: Funded projects must either be completed this fiscal year or must be sustainable without further special federal funding. Ben Franklin, NPS Director Bomar, Secretary Kemphthorne, and the class of 2016