By Libby Casey
Former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles will sit on an advisory board for the National Park Service. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the appointment Tuesday. Knowles and eleven others named will make recommendations to the Secretary and the National Park Service Director. Knowles says the rest of the Park system may have something to learn from Alaska:
One of the advantages of coming from Alaska is that Alaska has more national park land and water than the rest of America combined. So we certainly have a lot to protect and a lot to offer.
The advisory board is all new because the last Park Service board had sunsetted. Knowles recently served on an independent group, the Second Century Commission, that was charged with crafting a new 21st century vision for the agency. Knowles says that alerted him to the hurdles facing the National Park Service.
The challenges come from climate change, the ability to maintain the biological diversity in our national parks, the ability to relate to people that live near national parks, to have eco-based management system in our national parks, all of these will be a challenge.
National Park Service spokesman John Quinley in Anchorage says the board can choose its own focus, and will likely start with the recommendations listed in the Second Century Commission report.
Looking at sustainability within the park service, another might be one o the Secy and director’s priorities, do a better job in engaging youth, and also collaborating with communities. Those may be things that the advisory board may take a look at and suggest things the service can be doing.
The rest of the twelve-member board comes from throughout the country, but with a heavy concentration from western states. The Park Service has had an advisory board since the 1930s.