National Park Foundation Program Addresses Transportation Issues In National Parks

National parks often are the setting for some incredible traffic issues, be they related to "bison jams," lack of parking, or simply high visitation. To help parks find solutions to some of these problems, the National Park Foundation has offered a program that places transportation experts in the parks to brainstorm solutions.

The Transportation Scholars program, now entering its 11th year, aims to provide solutions for dealing with traffic, pollution, and congestion in the parks.

“The Transportation Scholars program’s successful partnering of national parks and industry allows for a unique opportunity to utilize talented experts from the private sector and apply their knowledge to great benefit across the national park system,” said Neil Mulholland, the Foundation's president and CEO. “For more than a decade now, this model has had a lasting, positive impact in parks and their surrounding communities.”

The 2012 Transportation Scholars national park recipients include:

* Arches National Park
* Cape Cod National Seashore
* National Parks of New York Harbor
* San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
* Yellowstone National Park

In March of this year, five individuals from a pool of numerous applicants will be selected to work with national park staff at each of the aforementioned parks. Together, they will determine positive solutions to the unique transportation issues facing each park they are assigned to research. These emerging transportation professionals will spend a full year in their assigned park studying the unique environment and challenges and developing sustainable, alternative transportation systems.

To date, the Transportation Scholars program has positively impacted more than 40 units of the National Park System by creating general transportation planning and analysis, working closely with the gateway communities, private consultants, contractors, and park visitors to implement a variety of environmental and traffic studies. Previous scholars’ work has translated into nearly $4 million in private and public funding to put the Transportation Scholars’ plans into action.

Past scholars have gone on to careers with the National Park Service, the Federal Highway Administration, the Department of Transportation and many private consulting agencies.

The National Park Foundation’s Transportation Scholars program model has proven so successful in its ten-year history that the Transit in Parks Technical Assistance Center is launching a complimentary program, expanding the program to all public lands. This new extension, the TRIPTAC Public Lands Transportation Scholars Program, will be based on the NPF program model by matching Transportation Scholars with one of the other three federal land management agencies. The two programs will work together in providing training and mentorship of the Scholars with the shared goal of preserving our nation’s valuable natural, cultural, and historic resources and enhancing the visitor experience by implementing sustainable, alternative transportation in national parks and public lands.

The National Park Foundation’s Transportation Scholars program is made possible, in part, through the support of the National Park Service, Motorola Solutions Foundation, Eno Transportation Foundation, Federal Highway Administration, and the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Technical Assistance Center.