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The Future of CA’s National Parks

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 By Lori AbbottContact
September 28, 2009

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Whether it's Santa Monica Mountains National Park in the south, Redwoods National Park in the north or Yosemite in between, more needs to be done to attract youth and minorities to California's national Parks - as well as those across the country. That's one of the recommendations from the independent National Parks Second Century Commission, co-chaired by Sen. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana.

"Young people have not fully appreciated the parks. Bringing the young people in is maybe one of the most overlooked parts of the Park Service effort at this time."

The year-long analysis presented to the Obama administration calls for dramatic enhancements to the National Park System as it nears its 100-year anniversary in 2016. The report also recommends more science education and research at the parks, as well as expanding the park system itself to protect more of America's cultural treasures and represent the nation's increasing diversity.

Commissioner Steve Lockhart, San Francisco, chairs the California nonprofit Nature Bridge (formerly the Yosemite National Institutes). He says expanding educational opportunities at the country's national parks is a priority.

"Offering more formal learning and curriculum-based programming for young people is key. We'd like to be able to bring the sixth grade class of every school in the county into its neighboring national park and have the students learn about science, history and culture."

The commission's report coincides with this week's debut of filmmaker Ken Burns' documentary about the history of the national parks, being aired on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS).

The analysis is available at www.visionfortheparks.org and
www.npca.org/commission.


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