Last summer, when Dirk was dispatched to Yellowstone by the president to celebrate the National Park Service's 90th birthday and announce the National Park Centennial Challenge, I weighed in with a few thoughts on how the agency could commemorate its 100th birthday.
Of course, my ideas were fairly practical, touching on things such as wiping out the agency's huge backlog, providing full funding for the agency on a year-to-year basis, providing enough money for more interpretive rangers, things such as that.
And, of course, Dirk and Mary are thinking along those lines. They hope to be able to set specific goals for more ranger-led programs and more restoration projects. Beyond that, though, it's hard to know what they're thinking.
But when you realize that the president's proposal calls for the private sector to invest upwards of $1 billion in the parks over the next decade, you can imagine that those investors want to see more than just rakes, shovels and flat hats in return for their dollars.
I do understand the folks at the National Parks Conservation Association have come up with a list of possible projects that make sense and would benefit the parks. They range from improving wildlife corridors and habitat on lands adjacent to the parks to alternative transportation systems.
Additionally, NPCA is thinking of a program that would focus more attention on the park system's cultural resources, as well as one that would "leverage and enhance the educational and inspirational power of the national parks for lifelong learning."
What other possibilities are out there? Frankly, the sky is the limit, as the saying goes. A month ago I posted about the Park Service archives held at the Harper's Ferry Center and concerns that Mary might contract out some of the archival services.
Out of that story came the idea from the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees that perhaps a Museum of the National Park Service -- America's Best Idea could evolve as a signature project.
There must be some other good ideas out there. Any thoughts that we could circulate for those attending the listening sessions to consider?