A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Salazar Welcomes Second Century Commission Report on Future of National Park System
WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today commended the members of the National Parks Second Century Commission for their report on the future of the National Park System, which includes a wide range of recommendations for enhancing all aspects of our national parks.
“I applaud the commission for leaving no stone unturned in seeking ways to enhance our National Park System so that we might better honor our nation's beauty, history and culture, conserve our treasured landscapes and their wildlife, and both inform and inspire the American people,” Salazar said. “The report provides a foundation upon which to build an even brighter future for our already outstanding national parks.”
The National Parks Conservation Association convened the commission, chaired by former U.S. Senators Howard Baker and J. Bennett Johnston, to produce a comprehensive report on the park system as it nears its 100th anniversary in 2016 and begins a second century.
The commission consists of nearly 30 national leaders, experts and thinkers drawn from a broad range of backgrounds, including scientists, historians, conservationists, academics, business leaders, policy experts, and retired National Park Service officials.
In its report, entitled “Advancing the National Park Idea,” the panel said that the National Park System is at a crossroads, facing challenges such as urgent environmental problems, a burgeoning population and critical needs in education. It called for a new vision recognizing the interrelationships between human beings and the natural world and the need for a sustainable relationship between people and the planet.
The report also included recommendations to strengthen the educational role of the National Park System, including new partnerships with the formal education community.
“National parks are no longer just far away places where people go to visit,” Salazar said. “We now have nearly 400 national parks, many of them in or near cities. We have a major role in supporting local communities and especially in fueling a passion our young people for our natural and historical heritage that will help them build a better future for our country.”