National Parks Get $51 Million Birthday Present

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The National Park service celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016, and between now and then, 76 parks will share the birthday present: $51 million derived from public and private fundraising. Kind of makes the scooter I got for my birthday look lame.

To announce this national park boon, passle of 4th-graders, who graduate from high school in (a-ha!) 2016, joined park supporters and elected officials to eat hot dogs and ice cream and listen to speeches. Reflecting back on my 4th-grade self, I'd be psyched about the ice cream and hot dogs, but that second part would bum me out pretty hard.

“As we get ready for this (centennial) milestone, we are also preparing for another century of conservation, preservation and enjoyment,” said Rep. Norman Dicks, D-Wash, who chairs a House subcommittee that has jurisdiction over park funding. “I hope that another enduring legacy of this effort will be to engage new generations of Americans, like these young people right in front of us, in the values of their national parks and ensure their care for a second century.”

Additionally, Interior Secretary Dick Kempthorne rolled into Glacier National Park to make the announcement on one of the famously red antique shuttle buses (no word on whether he brought his gun). Glacier will get $490,000, most of which will be spent on upgrades before Glacier's own 100th b-day in 2010. Grants for other parks will cover a variety of projects, including environmental restoration, protecting endangered species, educational programs for kids and recreational facilities. South Padre Island National seashore gets $223,000 to protect endangered sea turtles, for instance, and Great Smoky gets $40,000 to create a “downloadable park."

Wait, "downloadable park?" I know Great Smoky is crowded, but that seems a little counterintuitive to me. Better to give me the $40,000 and see what solutions I can come up with. Warning: It might include a new boat. For me. — Ted Alvarez

Glacier park to benefit from national program (Great Falls Tribune)