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Friday, August 22, 2008

Sam Waterston Does PSA for National Parks Conservation Association

Sam Waterston has recorded a Public Service Announcement (PSA) for the National Parks Conservation Association. The NPCA is sponsoring the campaign to build awareness of the needs of our national parks, and so we can all work together to restore these national treasures by the park system's 2016 centennial. The advertisements will appear on radio, and in newspapers and national magazines at the generosity of the media.

I love all our National Parks, large and small. Believe it or not, I live only a little over a mile from a historic site that is part of the National Park system. It’s the the home of President James A. Garfield. I know a lot of money goes into maintaining a place like that, so our much bigger National Parks, like Yosemite and Yellowstone probably cost a fortune to maintain. And we should do all we can to keep them in top shape so they can be enjoyed for years – and generations – to come.

The full press release can be found below. I’ve also taken the radio message and created a little video so you can all hear it and spread the word.

National Parks Conservation Association Launches New Public Service Ad Campaign; Calls on New Congress, Administration for National Park Funding, Protections

Campaign features Petrified Forest, National Mall as examples of parks in need

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The nation’s leading voice for the national parks, the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today announced the launch of its 2008 "Our National Parks" public service advertising campaign, which features actors Amy Madigan and Sam Waterston, and calls on the American public for help in encouraging greater federal funding for national park upkeep and protection.

"Our national parks: the Washington Monument, Petrified Forest, Yosemite, Mesa Verde, and many others, are national treasures," said NPCA President Tom Kiernan. "We need action to protect them for our children and grandchildren."

The new print and radio public service advertisements, developed by the PlowShare Group, Inc., will be distributed to magazines, newspapers, and radio stations nationwide. The radio spots include two generously recorded by actors Amy Madigan and Sam Waterston, both of whom also provided voice-over talent for filmmaker Ken Burns’ new documentary about America’s national parks, planned for release in fall 2009.

In NPCA’s public service ads, the public is encouraged to visit npca.org to sign a petition to Congress and the incoming Administration to seek their support for restoring our national parks in time for the park system’s 2016 centennial. The petition will be delivered in February.

In a 2008 nationwide survey conducted by Peter Hart Research Associates, 83 percent of respondents indicated that it was extremely or quite important for the federal government to protect and support national parks such as Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and the Everglades.

Yet, as NPCA’s new public service campaign points out, chronic federal funding shortfalls have put national parks nationwide at risk. While Congress has provided some increased funding, parks such as the National Mall continue to suffer from inadequate investment. At the Mall, $350 million is needed for maintenance and preservation of the monuments, historic buildings, and parkland, and for visitor services and signage. Nationwide, national parks struggle with a cumulative backlog of maintenance needs of nearly $9 billion.

NPCA’s campaign also features Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, which is at risk of residential and commercial development within its boundaries because the National Park Service doesn’t have the needed funds to acquire land from willing sellers. Landowner Mike Fitzgerald has been holding out for the Park Service to buy his "scientifically valuable" land for years; he warned the Christian Science Monitor newspaper in July that he may be forced to sell to a developer.

According to NPCA’s recent report, America’s Heritage: For Sale, the Park Service needs nearly $2 billion to acquire 1.8 million acres of priority lands within the boundaries of national parks nationwide, including Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in Southern California, Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania, Virgin Islands National Park in the U.S.V.I, and New River Gorge National River in West Virginia.

"Americans expect the federal government to take care of our national parks," said Kiernan. "We’ll be looking to the new Administration and Congress to fulfill that promise."

Next week, NPCA is convening the first meeting of the National Parks Second Century Commission, a body of distinguished private citizens that is conducting a broadly inclusive dialogue over the next 18 months about national parks, their values, and role in society. The meeting will be held at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, on August 24-27.

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, here.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site, All Things Law & Order.

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