From its humble beginnings as a group of just three former National Park Service employees speaking out in 2003 against proposed cuts to national park budgets to a major advocacy organization representing a collective 30,000 years of NPS work experience, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees has added its 1,000th member: former NPS Director Gary Everhardt.
CNPSR also outlined the highlights of its 10 years of vigorous, non-partisan advocacy promoting park stewardship, visitor interests, and the concerns of active NPS employees.
Former Director Everhardt rose through the ranks of the National Park Service prior to being appointed as the agency’s ninth director. He was highly regarded by the rank-and-file employees and remains a revered figure in NPS history. In 1969, Everhardt was named assistant superintendent for operations at Yellowstone National Park. In 1972, he was selected as superintendent for Grand Teton National Park. In 1975, he was appointed by President Gerald Ford as the Park Service director and served throughout the Ford Administration. Following his tenure as NPS director, Mr. Everhardt returned to the field as superintendent of Blue Ridge Parkway, where he served until his retirement in 2000.
“Gary Everhardt represents everything that is good about the National Park Service. We are deeply honored to have him join the ranks of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees which includes three other former NPS Directors, Ron Walker, James Ridenour, and Bob Stanton. Previous and now deceased former NPS Directors who were also CNPSR members include George Hartzog, Russ Dickenson, Bill Whalen and Roger Kennedy," said Maureen Finnerty, the Coalition's chair. "The achievement of reaching 1,000 members after 10 short years reflects the evolution of CNPSR from an ad hoc group formed in a budget crisis to a much larger and more active organization that now addresses a wide span of national and park-specific issues. We hope to achieve even more during our next 10 years of working together for America’s National Park System.”
“I am delighted to join so many cherished National Park Service colleagues as a member of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees," said Mr. Everhardt. "I have watched the substantial work and successes of CNPSR in support of the National Park Service with admiration and appreciation. I congratulate the Coalition, its founders and all the members on the tenth anniversary. I intend to encourage everyone I know to join this organization.”
Ms. Finnerty noted that CNPSR is a strong voice in debates about maintaining and protecting national parks. Since 2003, CNPSR has engaged in a wide variety of advocacy efforts:
* In October 2013, CNPSR led the national dialogue regarding the impacts of the government shutdown on national parks, park employees, the economies of gateway communities and entire states with multiple national park units. Its collective voice was critically important as the NPS was in the shutdown mode and not easily able to provide information to the public and the news media.
* In February-March 2013, CNPSR exposed the impacts of “budget sequestration” on the National Park System. CNPSR again played an important information role with the public, as the NPS was not permitted to speak about the impacts of the sequester cuts.
* In 2005, CNPSR exposed an attempted rewrite of NPS Management Policies, essentially changing the Service from a conservation to a recreation agency. The project was abandoned in large measure because of its advocacy work.
* In 2003-2005, the Coalition first emerged to oppose plans to cut the national park budget, particularly proposed slashing of long-delayed maintenance. CNPSR also outlined the possible impact of the cuts in terms of closured, reduced park hours, diminished services for visitors and other harms.
Over the last 10 years, CNPSR has weighed in repeatedly on winter use issues at Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Its efforts have contributed to improve environmental and visitor experience standards at these iconic parks reflected in the recent Final Winter Use Rule.