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Reimagining the History of the (Inter)National Park Service

By Guest Observer February 7, 2018
Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 10.33.50 AM

The National Park Service has a long history of international engagement with ties to other nations, including Canada, dating to the agency’s earliest years. In 1961, during the height of the Cold War, an official Division of International Affairs was created, to advance the aims of conservation and U.S. diplomatic and political pursuits. Learn more about NPS international activities and the significance of the agency’s global ties in this piece by guest observer Joana Arruda.

Behind the Scenes of the Legislative Process

Don Hellman2

For this month’s Featured Voice interview, we talk with Don Hellmann, the former Assistant Director for Legislative and Congressional Affairs for the National Park Service. Hellmann ended his 40-year career working with Congress at the beginning of 2017. He spent the last 22 years with the NPS. In the interview, Hellmann provides insight into how the NPS legislative agenda changed over time as well as background on especially memorable bills, including Public Law 104-333, which addressed the future of the Presidio of San Francisco.

Places and People in Trouble

Main Street of  Kane Pennsylvania

Can America’s small cities be saved? Practioners in the fields of historic preservation, parks and recreation, and community development across the country have tried to tackle this problem. The problem runs wide and deep. For example, in Pennsylvania over 30 municipalities, almost all of which could be characterized as small cities, have been designated financially distressed. All of these places have a similar litany of problems – declining population and tax revenue, high pension and health care costs, a large inventory of blighted or tax-exempt properties, and heavy burden of municipal debt. Recent opinion pieces in the New York Times and the Washington Post have highlighted the issue, now what? Read more.

From the Archives: Urban Recreation and Greenline Parks Capture Attention in 1975

By Eleanor Mahoney December 29, 2017
Senator J. Bennett Johnston. Credit:  U.S. Senate Historical Office.

The mid 1970s proved to be a pivotal moment in the history of large landscape conservation. The funding boom of the sixties had come to an end, but the political influence of the environmental movement still held sway in many state capitols and in Washington, D.C. The administration of President Gerald Ford sought to cut back on federal investments in conservation, especially in cities, while members of Congress pushed for increases or – at the very least – preservation of the funding status quo. A document from the era, drafted by Charles Little of the Congressional Research Service, captures these tensions and is worth a read.

Culture/Nature Journey: New Delhi India

By Brenda Barrett December 27, 2017
Taj Mahal
 UNESCO World Heritage Site Agra India

There is growing recognition of the interconnected character of culture and nature and the need for a more holistic approach to address the most urgent issues facing our planet – climate change, urbanization, and the transformations wrought by globalization. The recent Scientific Symposium at the 19th ICOMOS Triennial General Assembly in Delhi (December 11-15, 2017) continued the journey begun at last year’s World Conservation Congress in Hawai’i to find points intersection between the two fields. The discussion focused on such topics as the Connecting Practice initiative , the challenges of agriculture and rural landscapes, and the role of indigenous communities.