Voices from the Hill : Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne Announces Centennial Programs

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Secretary Kempthorne Announces the 2008 Centennial Projects in Yosemite National Park; DOI Photo
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Secretary Kempthorne : "This is a giant leap for the National Park Service"

You can hear it in his voice, can't you? Dirk Kempthorne is excited. The Secretary of the Interior announced today a list of 201 projects that are eligible for funding in the first year of the Centennial Initiative. The program could add as much as $2 Billion in new programs and projects for the parks, and $1 Billion for park operations over 10 years. In his remarks that follow, you can hear Mr. Kempthorne crow a little bit at the early success of the program, especially as it relates to the provision of the Centennial Challenge which depends on non-federal dollars for success. Critics of that aspect of the program, including us at the National Parks Traveler, had wondered if fundraising $100 million a year would be possible. The Secretary was quite happy to inform us today that the goal has been exceeded, and that he has commitments for $301 Million for projects in fiscal years 08 and 09. Aware of those who caution against bowing to private demands, Kempthorne notes that donors recognize this as philanthropy, not branding. These programs he say, herald a new era of revilalization for the parks.

This is what we've got in store for year one of the ten year plan. Assuming Congress fully funds the Centennial Challenge, we will repeat this process of program announcements every year for the next nine years as we approach the National Park Service centennial in 2016. To see the full list of programs announced today, log into the web at nps.gov/2016, or check in with this earlier story.