Centennial Projects: Fighting Mosquitoes in Grand Teton National Park
I don't know anyone who likes mosquitoes. They suck your blood, make you itch, on occasion transmit nasty diseases, and generally make a nuisance by swarming around your head and any other exposed skin.
But should doing battle with these bloodsuckers be memorialized as a Centennial Initiative project worthy of commemorating the National Park Service's centennial in 2016?
I agree with the folks at Grand Teton National Park who are concerned about 'squeeters transmitting West Nile disease and avian influenza. But should a mosquito war be funded through Centennial Initiative dollars (if Congress approves them)?
Here's how Grand Teton officials announced this war:
Grand Teton National Park is eligible for $25,000 in matching funds to support a project that will educate park visitors and employees about potential exposure to the West Nile Virus and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, and implement protection measures to reduce exposure to these diseases. Grand Teton National Park will work with the local Teton County Mosquito Abatement as a partner for this project to minimize health and safety risks.
“Being selected for the proposal to protect park visitors and employees from exposure to West Nile Virus and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza will allow Grand Teton to address public safety concerns while fulfilling the Stewardship Goal under the Centennial Initiative," Grand Teton Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott said back in August when Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and Park Service Director Mary Bomar unveiled a list of 201 eligible Centennial Initiative projects.
If there's a public safety concern, should the Park Service have to rely on the Centennial Initiative to combat it or should it address the problem as soon as it's identified?
Fortunately, the folks at Grand Teton have a few other ideas in mind that seem a bit more fitting for the centennial celebration.
For instance, they plan to:
* develop an historic preservation center at the old White Grass Dude Ranch (a project that has already begun but needs future funding);
* restore more than 4,000 acres of former rangelands and eliminate non-native species;
* establish pathways along road corridors that will connect the park with adjacent gateway communities and encourage non-motorized visitation;
* conserve, protect and interpret the David T. Vernon collection of American Indian art and artifacts in a new sustainable facility with year-round visitor access;
* establish a Grand Teton Trails Forever program to address critically needed trail maintenance on the 420 miles of highly popular park trails—including a Youth Conservation Program that has successfully operated during 2006 and 2007, and;
* establish a fund to facilitate acquisition from willing sellers of high priority properties within the park that are identified in the park’s Land Protection Plan.
With this list of candidates, it makes you wonder how the 'squeeters came out on top.