National Parks In Alaska Looking Toward Park Service's Centennial In 2016

With just four years until the National Park Service marks its centennial and ventures into its second century of managing the National Park System, officials at the agency's Alaska units are beginning to plan for that anniversary.

To start that transformation, the leadership of the Alaska Region of the NPS is beginning a series of public conversations about how the Park Service should work to accomplish the major themes of the centennial as well as discuss current operations and issues in Alaska's national parks.

The first of several open houses will be from 4-7 p.m. at the Morris Thompson Center on April 17 in Fairbanks. The program will start with NPS Regional Director Sue Masica providing a brief introduction of the agency's operations in Alaska and the nationwide centennial themes of how to better connect people to parks, how to advance the NPS education mission, and how to better preserve America's special places.

Areas will be set up at the Center for each of the three themes, with NPS staff to moderate discussion, record comments and answer questions.

“We’re interested in how the Park Service might change to better serve the public as we move towards our second century,” Director Masica said. “We’re open to hearing all sorts of suggestions, but we know from other discussions that topics such as climate change, access to parks, predator control, subsistence, a lack of diversity among our employees and visitors, and using technology to a greater advantage are important to Alaskans.”

The National Park Service will also hold similar listening sessions during the Great Alaska Sportsman Show in Anchorage. While a pay-to-attend event, the four-day show attracts some 20,000 Alaskans interested in recreational opportunities. The Park Service will hold sessions at 6 p.m. Thursday and 11 a.m. Saturday, both in the Sullivan Arena.

A second open house will be held in Palmer on May 22 from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Depot/Community Center, 610 S. Valley Way.

The NPS also intends to hold open houses this fall in Anchorage and Juneau.