Noted biologist E.O. Wilson and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor are among the notables on a non-partisan commission appointed to study the future of the National Park System.
Announced this morning by the National Parks Conservation Association, the National Parks Second Century Commission is charged with assessing the current state of the national parks and determining what potential they hold for the future.
Mr. Wilson and Ms. O'Connor are among 30 national leaders, experts, and academicians with backgrounds in science, conservation, business, and policy. Among the 30 is Denis Galvin, a former deputy director of the National Park Service. Chairing the commission, which will convene its first meeting later this month near Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, are former U.S. Senators Howard Baker of Tennessee and J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana.
“More than one hundred years ago America invented the national park idea with the designation of Yellowstone as the first national park,” says Mr. Baker. “Guided by that founding idea, this commission will examine the role of the national parks today and articulate a bold vision of a future where national parks continue to enrich and ennoble this nation and its citizens.”
Following its first meeting, scheduled for August 25-27, the commission will hold meetings in Yellowstone National Park, Gettysburg National Military Park, Lowell National Historical Park, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park by next June. The group hopes to hear from a range of subject matter experts, park managers, and the general public over the course of their twelve-month effort, culminating in a report with recommendations in the fall of 2009.
What isn't yet entirely clear is who is underwriting the cost of the commission, how its members were selected, and the format of its hearings. You can find a complete list of the commissioners, and their biographies, attached below.