Strong interviewing skills and engaging writing helped me compose an annual report for National Parks Conservation Association that thrilled the organization’s leadership.
I interviewed NPCA’s president and board chair to craft their opening letter, spoke with topic experts and donors to represent key NPCA achievements, presented financial reports, and introduced the recipients of NPCA’s annual awards in a 38-page publication. An excerpt:
Letter from the Board Chair and President
Last summer, oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening what we hold so dear. From Gulf Islands National Seashore to Everglades National Park, our coastal wetlands, marine environments, and cultural treasures were—and may still be—in peril. This tragedy was the most visible reminder of the long-term threats to our National Park System from climate change, current energy policies, and inadequate funding for science and management within the parks.
Although these challenges are daunting in scale and complexity, NPCA is facing them head on at the local, regional, and national levels. We’re helping the National Park Service curb the effects of this devastating oil spill in places like Gulf Islands National Seashore by urging Congress to invest in the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is used to purchase ecologically important lands in and around our parks. We’re insisting on better regulation for oil and gas leasing, energy production, and mining and mineral projects that could affect specific parks. And we’re working hard to make sure the Park Service gets the funding and guidance it needs to help its parks adapt and prepare for the potentially devastating impacts of climate change.
At the local level, we fought energy and oil companies that sought the coal, coal-bed methane and hardrock minerals tucked within the headwaters of Glacier National Park. That, too, seemed an unlikely win. But thanks to our impassioned work, governments in Canada and Montana issued a permanent ban on energy development in the Flathead River Basin adjacent to Glacier (see page 12), and with our encouragement, ConocoPhillips, one of the world’s largest energy companies, relinquished its oil and gas exploration rights on nearly 170,000 acres outside the park. Plus, NPCA has guarded parks against air pollution from coal-fired power plants, and it’s fought back other forms of development that threatened to erode our parks’ integrity. At all levels of our organization, NPCA staff, volunteers, and donors are working hard to make sure our national parks enjoy a bright future.
That future was also the topic of the National Parks Second Century Commission, which crafted a visionary role for national parks in American society in their upcoming second 100 years. Consisting of 126 national leaders, including scientists, historians, conservationists, academics, business leaders, policy experts, and retired National Park Service leaders, this non-partisan commission, convened by NPCA, developed a vision for the parks’ next century. After a year-long analysis, it published a report entitled Advancing the National Park Idea (available at npca.org/commission), in which commissioners called for a ratification of the Park Service’s mission to include education, and expansion of the park system to better represent the diversity of America’s ecological and cultural riches, and greater collaboration between the Park Service and adjacent landowners to protect parks and wildlife within their broader ecological landscapes. The commission also proposed a comprehensive revitalization of the National Park Service itself, which would include creating a Center for Innovation, a greater and more consistent commitment to professional development, and boosting research and scholarship capacity to guide park management and protection.
Improvements like these won’t happen without the steadfast leadership of NPCA, strong partnerships with our ally organizations, and active support from our donors and members. We’ll employ our committed and capable organization of regional staff, lobbyists, communication experts, and other staff and resources that have made NPCA so effective over the last 90 years. Although the scope and scale of out strategies to protect the parks may evolve in the coming years, one thing is of bedrock importance: your ongoing engagement and support. So thank you to all of our members, online advocates, and donors for empowering us to protect and preserve our country’s most treasures places. Together, we will succeed.
Alan J. Lacy, Board Chair
Thomas C. Kiernan, President