D.C. Council Member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) joins Kojo and Tom Sherwood to chat about her upcoming fight for re-election.
Imagine Joshua Tree National Park with no Joshua trees, or Glacier National Park minus the glaciers. The director of the National Park Service says climate change is the biggest threat the agency has faced in its nearly 100-year history — and it could make both scenarios a reality. He joins Kojo to talk about how the Park Service is re-thinking its stewardship mission and what lies ahead for the nation’s natural treasures.
- Jonathan Jarvis Director, National Park Service
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. Imagine Glacier National Park with no glaciers, Joshua Tree National Park minus the Joshua trees, Yellowstone without grizzlies. Scientists say climate change is altering the landscape and threatening plants and animals at America's iconic national parks.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAs sea levels rise and weather patterns shift, vistas are being transformed, and wildlife is being forced to adapt or perish. Some animals can move to more welcoming habitats. The picas in Yosemite are climbing higher up the mountains to find the cool temperatures they like, but other species are rooted in place. White bark pine trees in Yellowstone are dying because warmer winters help bark beetles prosper and attack.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThe changes are prompting Park Service officials to rethink the agency's mission. Should a long history of stewardship without intervention give away to a more activist role in preserving the parks as we know them? In the meantime, the nation's 400 national parks and monuments are gearing up for summer with a federal budget sequestration that will keep some visitor centers and restrooms closed for the season. Joining us to discuss all of this and more is Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service. Thank you so much for joining us.
MR. JONATHAN JARVISThank you, Kojo. It's great to be here. I appreciate you bringing up these issues so we can talk about them.
NNAMDIIf it's a conversation that you'd like to join, you can call us at 800-433-8850. What's your favorite national park or what evidence of climate change have you noticed when you visited a national park? 800-433-8850. You can send us email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a tweet, @kojoshow. Jonathan Jarvis, you've been with the National Park Service for more than three decades and became director four years ago. But it also started for you right here in Washington when you joined the Park Service as a seasonal interpreter in 1976. What was your job then?
JARVISWell, that was the bicentennial.
JARVISAnd we were welcoming millions of people to our nation's capital. So it was my job -- I worked at the Bicentennial Information Center and to help citizens understand this great city and also find out what was going on in their own communities related to the bicentennial. So it was a great start to a great career.
NNAMDIWhy was it called seasonal interpreter?
JARVISWell, basically, they're still out there today on the Mall in the National Park Service uniform with that classic flat hat. And they're there to explain the monuments and memorials, the cherry blossoms.
NNAMDITalk about the scope of the National Park Service. With the recent addition of three new properties, there are now apparently 401 national parks with more than 20,000 rangers and other employees. How many visitors do you get every -- each year?
JARVISAbout 280 million visitors come see us on an annual basis. We're in every state in the Union. We manage about 80 million acres in this country, and we stretch from the Virgin Islands to the far Pacific of Guam and Saipan. We have really the responsibility to take care of the nation's most extraordinary landscapes, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite. And also the most important historic sites, whether it's the Statue of Liberty or Martin Luther King's Ebenezer Baptist Church, these fall into the stewardship responsibility of the National Park Service.
NNAMDILet's look at the challenges the Park Service is facing. You've said the greatest threat in the history of the national parks is climate change, and that the parks are a great place to help Americans understand its impact. How can visitors see evidence of climate change in the parks?
JARVISWell, we know one thing that's great about our visitation to the national parks is we get a lot of repeat visitors. We get visitors that come and multiple generations. And in that time span, you can actually see climate change's effects, so, for instance, receding glaciers in Glacier National Park or at Mount Rainier National Park.
JARVISWhen I worked at Mount Rainier, which is up in Washington state, right beside -- near Seattle, the public would come and say what happened to the ice caves because they remembered that, in the old days, you could go out, and you actually could walk into the entrance of the snout of a glacier. Those are completely gone now. And you can see this kind of physical change directly.
NNAMDIThe topic of climate change, however, can be quite controversial. What do you tell your park rangers about how to discuss it with visitors?
JARVISWell, climate change is a very complex issue. And what I tell our rangers -- we train them on how to talk about controversial issues, and so we're not a stranger to general controversial issues, climate change as being one of them. So we are nonjudgmental. We don't point our fingers at any group or organization or any individual in terms of blame or anything like that.
JARVISWe present science, the very best science that we can obtain. We present it clinically, and we engage the public in thinking about these issues and giving us their own thoughts. We don't get into an argument with them. If people have strong opinions, we don't disagree with them. We just say this is something you need to think about.
NNAMDIWe're talking with Jonathan Jarvis. He is director of the National Park Service. Inviting your calls at 800-433-8850. Do you think the Park Service should intervene when climate change threatens plants or animals in the parks or simply let nature take its course, so to speak? 800-433-8850. You can also go to our website, kojoshow.org, and join the conversation there.
NNAMDIYou can send email to email@example.com. In some parks, climate change is visible in the sites people come to see, glaciers in Glacier National Park, waterfalls at Yosemite National Park. What are the most obvious examples of climate change altering the landscape?
JARVISI think one of the most dramatic things that's happening is fire. As you know, each year, the National Park Service as well as our other land management agencies have to deal with wild land fire. We are seeing fires burn longer, seasons. We see them more intense and burning into environments that that wouldn't have burned in the past. We literally had a fire this past October, burning underneath snow at Rocky Mountain National Park because the duff, that layer of material that falls off the trees, was so dry from the continuous drought that the fire was basically creeping under snowpack.
NNAMDIOn to the telephones. We'll start with Fred in Burke, Va. Fred, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
FREDHi, Kojo. Hi, Mr. Jarvis. So good -- glad to be on. I just wanted to preface my remarks by saying that it's 280 million people. That's a lot, and that should be part of his title. Golly. And secondly, as to your question, Kojo, whether we should let nature take its course...
FRED...it was best expressed in the rightwing perspective of that wonderful movie in "The African Queen" where Katharine Hepburn said nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are placed on this Earth to rise above. And that's just my favorite quote of all movies. So thank you very much and that's my view.
NNAMDIThank you very much. Care to comment on that at all, Jonathan Jarvis?
JARVISSure, Kojo. And thank you...
JARVIS...for those comments. Yeah, great movie. I enjoyed it. You know, the responsibility of the Park Service has been for its first 100 years is really to preserve these incredible places unimpaired for future generations. And we're seeing impairment right now, so it is challenging how we manage and how we protect these places for the next -- how we allow nature to move forward but recognize we may have to intervene in some cases.
NNAMDIMay talk in more specific terms about that a little later. Closer to home, talking about how freshwater could become scarce at Assateague Island National Seashore, off Maryland's eastern coast, and threaten the habitat of the wild ponies there and about the pilot projects there to make it easier to react to big storms.
JARVISWell, one of the keys that we're looking at is what we call adaptation, and that is looking at vulnerability of our -- each park in the system to climate change. So Assateague, a coastal barrier island system with saltwater marshes and existing population of horses, how do we prepare that island to receive the kind of changes we expect with higher storm surge, sea level rise, saltwater intrusion, all of those kinds of things.
JARVISAnd so making the island more resilient, preparing it for those kinds of changes is exactly what we're talking about. So based on the best available science, we expect sea level rise to occur over the next 50 to 100 years within a range. And as the saltwater rises, it is going to impact the freshwater availability on the Assateague.
NNAMDIIt's my understanding that you're putting in the parking lots whose surface is crushed shells because they aren't as expensive to replace the pavement, those kinds of things.
JARVISWell, and absolutely. And even then, if the crushed shells were washed out to sea as a result of a storm, they're natural material. It would be fine.
NNAMDIAs their habitat changes, animals can seek out new sources of food, look in new locations. Why is the rabbit-like pica in Yosemite moving to higher elevations?
JARVISYou know, the pica is such a great little animal. It's related to the -- it's kind of a small rabbit in a way, and they live in talus slopes. They live in rocky slopes, and they gather plants and seeds. And they store them in those rocky outcrops, kind of in little haystacks. They have a very high pitched squeal, sort of like a squeaky door hinge is why we call them that.
JARVISThey occupy a particular niche on the mountain of temperature range, and that temperature range is moving up the mountain with global warming. And so the pica has to follow that up. So the research is showing that picas today in the Sierras are 500 feet higher on the mountain than they were when they were surveyed, you know, 30, 40 years ago. So at some point, you run out of mountain, you know? You can only go up so far.
NNAMDIWhat happens then? They have no place higher to go.
JARVISThey have no place higher to go. The only place they can go is north, and this brings up the question of what we call assisted migration and where literally, we have to think about what -- where's the northern climb that the species could persist.
NNAMDIOur guest is Jonathan Jarvis. He is director of the National Park Service. If you have questions or comments about the National Park Service or any questions for Jonathan Jarvis, you can give us a call at 800-433-8850. You can send us a tweet, @kojoshow, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is Steven in Baltimore, Md. Steven, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
STEVENHi. Really quick. For some in the Congress as well in the government always talk about smaller government, and I always like to just draw the conclusion on what does that exactly mean. I don't want you to name names or anything. But are there any parties that's more open to increasing your budgets versus limiting your budgets, and how has the sequester affected your department and what you actually can do?
NNAMDIWe have a number of questions on sequestration that we will direct to Jonathan Jarvis, but this being the first you may want to answer that first and whether or not there is anyone who's actually willing to expand or increase your budget.
JARVISWell, the great thing about the Park Service is that we've always enjoyed bipartisan support whether it's the Democrats or the Republicans, the House, the Congress. It's always been good -- they've always been good to us. We are in tough economic times, and I know we're going to talk about sequestration impacts in detail. But I can't point to one side or the other. They both have been good supporters.
NNAMDIWe're going to take a short break. When we come back, we will continue this conversation. Steven, thank you for your call. If you have called, stay on the line. We will get back to your calls as soon as we come back, or you can send us an email to email@example.com. What is your favorite national park and if so, why? 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to our conversation with Jonathan Jarvis. He is director of the National Park Service. It's a conversation you can join if you have questions or comments by calling 800-433-8850. We're going to be discussing the sequester. What should park superintendents definitely not cut back on even in light of the federal budget sequester?
NNAMDIWhat do you think? 800-433-8850. You can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Plants cannot relocate on their own. What's happening to the trees at Joshua Tree National Park in Southeastern California, and what other parks have plants that are threatened?
JARVISWell, I think the Joshua tree is perfect example of a namesake of iconic species. They're an incredible, unique type of cactus that grows only in that part of the world. And based on all the predictive models, they really -- the habitat for Joshua trees may not exist in the future. So this would be where we would look at what would be the next desert-type environment where Joshua trees could persist and may literally go there and plant them so that we can maintain a population of Joshua trees, even if we lose them within the park. It would be a great loss to lose them completely.
NNAMDIYou got to figure out where you can go to park the Joshua trees for a long time to come. Here now is Jim in Alexandria, Va. Jim, you are on the air. Go ahead, please.
JIMThank you, Kojo. I always enjoy listening to your show. I just wanted to comment about the lovely programs at Glen Echo Park. I think it's -- there are a lot of activities there in terms of art, dancing and other forms of artistry. And I just think it's a very good combination of private and the public entities working well together -- more of a comment rather than anything else.
NNAMDIWell, you know, it's funny you should mention that. I took my granddaughter there this past weekend to see a play. I've taken her there in the past to see puppet shows, the like. And I've tried to convince her that it's she who loves the park, but I think she's on to me. It's me who loves Glen Echo Park.
JIMDon't let her know. Don't let her...
NNAMDII won't let her know. I got to keep telling her it's her. Want to talk about that at all?
JARVISSure. I love Glen Echo Park. When I was back here, as you mentioned, back in the bicentennial days, Glen Echo was one of my favorite places. I took a -- even took a woodworking class at Glen Echo in those early days. So we love having those kinds of parks where we provide a wide range of programs for kids in the arts, music, all of those kinds of things. And so Glen Echo is not the only place like that in the National Park System.
NNAMDIGreat historic stories there to one of them about the desegregation of Glen Echo Park that I'd like to tell. Jim, thank you very much for your call. Our guest is Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service. Climate change raises an interesting conundrum for the Park Service. Your historic mission has been one of stewardship to preserve the wild landscape, invite people to come visit it. But if nature takes its course, some parks will look quite different in the future. How is the Park Service rethinking its role and its tradition of non-intervention?
JARVISWell, that's probably the toughest question we have because parks are changing before our very eyes. Based on climate scientists' work, we believe it's anthropogenic, meaning human caused. And so what is the desired future? So what we're trying to do is, one, build in as much resilience that keep all the parts, as they say, into every one of the systems, every one of the parks. Obviously, monitor through science and communicate those kinds of things.
JARVISBut we also have to plan for the future adaptation in each of these places. So we've put together a team of scientists, some of the best in the country, that are helping us frame this sort of next generation of how the parks will look. They'll still be beautiful. Let's just face it. I mean, Yosemite is still going to be a gorgeous place as well as Glacier. But the compliment of species and the amount of water and the rivers and the waterfalls and all of that is going to change, and we need to be prepared for that.
NNAMDITwo comments about that, one comes from an email from Kelsey, who says, "I'm an undergraduate student at the University of Oregon, and I worked at Kings Canyon National Park last summer as a park guide intern. After backpacking throughout the back country of the Sierra Nevada last summer, I became interested in the challenges that climate change presents for the Park Service. What do you think about the mandate of un-impairment in the face of climate change? Is a natural condition in the parks possible?" You may have answered that in part already.
JARVISWell, I think I've already sort of commented on that is that our mandate in our 1916 Act is to protect these places unimpaired, and we're already seeing that kind of impairment. So it is changing that paradigm. And I think it's a fascinating and complicated question because now we have to sort of apply our own values to what that park looks like and essentially protect some things and manipulate others. We are seeing species show up in environments that we've never experienced them in the past.
JARVISAnd I think one of my scientists who has worked at Sequoia and Kings Canyon, you know, asked that question, are you ready to put a sprinkler system on the giant sequoias? Because the giant sequoias exist only in one sort of niche environment on the Sierras, and if that's changing, that means that these trees, which are, you know, so huge and so gorgeous, may not persist there over time.
NNAMDIAnd here's the reason why it's so complicated in the form of an email from Shannon, "I am concerned that more human intervention may make things worse than they are. How do we differentiate between normal climate change evolution and human-caused changes? Will our efforts to mitigate the damage caused by humans work against the normal changes that will happen? We can't stop nature, I guess, at least to the extent that we are a part of nature."
JARVISWell, I think we have to use the very best science we have. We have to be very judicious in any type of mitigation actions that we would take, in other words, sort of the minimum amount. I think we have to save all the parts as I indicated before and build public support for that direction as well.
NNAMDIHere's Eric in Arlington, Va. Eric, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ERICHi there. My question is regarding to a TED talk that was given a while back by a guy named Allan -- I believe it's Savory. And his assertion was -- he runs a nature preserve in Zimbabwe where he has managed to reclaim huge pieces of desert by using cattle. And not -- and his -- he points out that we all think that cattle, goats, pigs, cows all cause desertification, but it's actually the fact that they're not moving around the way natural animals do.
ERICAnd when you actually manage wildlife, you can actually reclaim these huge properties that are just safety being eroded away even though there are no cattle on them. And one of the examples that he gave was national parks where you see national parks that are actually more dried out and desertified than you would expect, considering that there's no cattle anywhere near them. I was wondering if this theory has gotten any visibility at the National Park Service and what your opinions would be.
NNAMDIIs that something you've thought about at all, Jonathan Jarvis?
JARVISWe have not looked into the use of cattle in the national parks. I mean, there are -- keep in mind that the public land estate in the United States is really managed by four federal land management agencies: the BLM, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and -- the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the BLM and the Park Service. And we all are working together to deal with these climate change impacts. And the use of cattle is much more appropriate statutorily on Forest Service and BLM than it is on National Park Service lands.
NNAMDIOn to Amee (sp?) in Chevy Chase, Md. Amee, your turn.
AMEEThank you, sir. Mr. Jarvis, thank you very much for the job you're doing. I don't envy you. I'm a volunteer park ranger at Antietam. And just from the little that I'm exposed there, this is way beyond one person's 240 million -- wonderful. I do have a question. The question is you mentioned that sequestration is not necessarily going to affect the Park Service.
AMEEBut if it does come, since one of the mission of the Park Service is to protect heritage sites, and I was thinking of, for example, Antietam, I'm talking about the park in Philadelphia and Independence Place and so forth and so on, which protect historical and our historical heritage as opposed to natural beauty. Is there going to be a differential treatment for those two sets of missions?
NNAMDIHistorical sites, if you will, versus natural sites.
JARVISI'm sorry, but did you mean in relation to climate change?
NNAMDIIn relation to sequestration.
JARVISOh, in sequestration. Well, we're going to, again, talk about sequestration if you like to sort of segue into that. And certainly...
NNAMDII'd like to do that because the federal budget sequester is forcing the parks to spend 5 percent less just as the busy season is about to start. How is the sequester changing the experience visitors will have at national parks this summer? And then you can answer Amee's question about whether preference is going to be given to sites of nature as opposed to historical sites.
JARVISWell, we don't have any preferences in our Park Service. We love all our children so all of our parks, no matter how small or big. The -- what's unique about the implementation of the sequester to the National Park Service, and I want to really make this point very clearly, is that in the federal budget, every national park, every unit, Antietam, Gettysburg, Yellowstone, you know, Whitman Mission, are a line in the budget.
JARVISSo every line in the budget took a 5 percent cut. And so I was not given, as the director, the discretion to move that reduction around and apply it, you know, differentially. So everyone was treated the same. So if you're a small park and you had to take a 5 percent cut, it translated into some sort of direct impact to your overall operations.
JARVISThe park services and operational agency, we provide 365 days a year, you know, in many cases, 24 hours a day services to the American public in this 401 places. And when you take a 5 percent cut halfway through the year just as you're beginning your peak season, there are impacts. And they translate in a variety of different ways across the system.
NNAMDIPeople who visit -- and thank you for your call, Amee. People who visit the Blue Ridge Parkway this summer will notice that half of the 16 visitor centers along the scenic drive will stay closed. Where else in our area are we likely to see the sequester squeeze?
JARVISWell, there are going to be direct impacts here in the District as well. For instance, our U.S. Park Police, which is -- are, you know, very elite law enforcement organization that provides security for our icons, patrol on the Potomac and the G.W. Parkway and in other areas, we're going to have to furlough those officers up to 14 days this year, which means there will be a reduction in overall enforcement in the field. Our National Mall where we have -- we pick up trash. I mean, I took a walk yesterday around the Tidal Basin to look at the cherry blossoms.
JARVISAnd, you know, of course, you know, the visitors are looking at the cherry blossoms, and I'm looking at the trash cans because that's what I do. And I'm looking at the number of rangers that are out, and we definitely had employees out working it. But there is definitely a reduction. The trash cans are not going to get emptied as frequently. We will not have as many interpreters on the ground. And I don't see any reduction in hours to operations here.
JARVISYou'll just see less services for most of the parks. Now, you get out a little ways into Antietam and Manassas and Gettysburg and Shenandoah and Blue Ridge Parkway, Assateague and the other parks that are within driving time, there will be reductions in -- no closures, as in the park won't be closed. But there'll definitely be reductions in services. And that would be some restaurants may be closed. Some visitor contact stations will be closed, be fewer rangers there to give walks and talks. A lot of that will be curtailed.
NNAMDIHere is Vanessa in Prince William Forest, Va. Vanessa, your turn.
VANESSAHi. I'm with NatureBridge, and we provide science education programs in national parks, working directly with schools. And Director Jarvis knows our organization well, and I just want to thank him for his support. I'm currently in Prince William Forest Park with 7th graders from Grand Park Middle School.
VANESSAAnd they are having a wonderful time exploring the place and learning science. And I guess my question would be how can we strengthen these public-private partnerships going forward in these times of sequestration to make sure that young people can learn in some of America's best classrooms? Thank you.
JARVISWell, I think public-private partnerships are the key to the future. As a matter of fact, in Yellowstone National Park where we, because of sequestration, we had to delay the plowing of the roads, the community actually stepped up and put up the funding to get the roads open because it's so critical to that local economy. The investment that Vanessa and NatureBridge are making in connecting young people to the outdoors will pay off for the rest of their lives.
JARVISWe know, as data shows, that when you get these kids in the outdoors, into these environments, it can be transformative to them, that they see themselves totally differently and they can be set on a new career path. And that is an incredibly important investment. And I think we do it best in public-private partnerships with organizations like NatureBridge.
NNAMDIAnd do you feel that public-private partnerships, especially in difficult economic times like we are experiencing now with the sequester can, maybe in part, make up for some of the budget cuts that you're experiencing?
JARVISI do think it can. I think that we should always remember that these assets, these incredible places, like Yellowstone and Yosemite and Prince William, were set aside for the American people. I think there is an inherent responsibility that their basic operations, their law enforcement, their resource management, their maintenance is cared for by the tax payer.
JARVISI think that that's -- this sort next step, this sort of margin of excellence that we can utilize these places to remind ourselves of really who we are as Americans, to connect kids to the outdoors, to connect kids to history so that -- is the best opportunity to take it to that next level or through these public-private partnerships.
NNAMDIVanessa, thank you for your call. You mentioned that each line item in the federal budget was cut by 5 percent. But I guess people want to know exactly what was in a line item. Here is Cindy in Annapolis, Md. You're on the air, Cindy. Go ahead, please.
CINDYHi there. Thank you. We are a big fan of the Junior Ranger Program the national parks do. It's phenomenal. We've participated all over the place. And I was wondering if that was going to be impacted by the budget cuts.
NNAMDIThe Junior Ranger Program.
JARVISThe Junior Ranger Program is a fantastic program. We have literally hundreds of thousands of kids that come to national parks across the country. Every one of them has a Junior Ranger program where a kid can -- they have to demonstrate that they have learned something and participate in a certain number of activities. And then they are sworn in by one of our rangers as a junior ranger, and they get a junior ranger badge.
JARVISAnd I think, absolutely, the Junior Ranger program will be impacted. There will be fewer rangers on the ground in parks to assist parents with their kids. The programs themselves probably will not be curtailed by any way, but the opportunity to really interact with our fantastic rangers will be -- will definitely be reduced.
NNAMDICindy, thank you very much for your call. Good luck to you.
NNAMDIOn now to Stephanie in Washington, D.C. Stephanie, your turn.
STEPHANIEHello. It's a pleasure to speak with you this afternoon, and thank you for taking my call. I'm actually with the Humane Society of the United States, and I wanted to talk to Mr. Jarvis and ask him a question about the work that they've done on Assateague using fertility-control drugs like PZP to manage the ponies out there and if he thinks there is a possibility through something that you were just discussing, the public-private partnerships, to do something like that for the deer at Rock Creek Park.
JARVISWell, you know, that's an issue that we've been litigated over, and so I don't want to get into too many details. But I believe that we are on the path to get the population of deer in Rock Creek down to a level that perhaps some form of contraception can work. But initially, we needed to reduce the population down to something that was manageable for alternative methods.
NNAMDIGot to take another short break. Stephanie, thank you for your call. You, too, can call us at 800-433-8850. If you'd like to talk with the director of the National Park Service, you might want to throw in your idea of what should the next national park be. 800-433-8850. Send us an email to email@example.com. What's your favorite national park? You can also send us a tweet, @kojoshow. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back. Our guest is Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service. He joins us for the entire hour, and we're still taking your calls at 800-433-8850, or you can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Here in the Washington area, we encounter the National Park Service mostly at our iconic monuments and memorials. What's the plan for repairing the Washington Monument and for changing the quote on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial?
JARVISWell, there's a lot going on in the Mall, and those are two of the projects. As you can see, the scaffolding, working its way up the Washington Monument. We have a contract under way there. Once its -- that sort of skeleton is covered. If you remember, about a decade ago, we had the monument wrapped.
JARVISAnd we're going to do the same thing.
NNAMDILooked pretty good, actually.
JARVISYeah. It will be fairly attractive for about a year and -- as we do the repairs to the stones. What a lot of people don't understand about the Washington Monument is that that is a dry stacked stone monument. There's no mortar in there. Those stones are just sitting on top of each other, pinned. And, of course, when the earthquake happened, they bumped against each other, and there was a significant amount of damage.
JARVISThat's about a $15 million project, of which half was donated from a very supportive individual here in the city, David Rubenstein. And then for the correction of the quote on the Martin Luther King Memorial, we have a contract under way to have the sculptor. Master Wei will be coming back. And essentially we are removing the quote. We are not replacing it. We are going to essentially scarify that side so that it matches the existing look of the Stone of Hope coming out of the Mountain of Despair, and the quote will be removed.
NNAMDIOn to the telephones. Again, to Gary in Vienna, Va. Gary, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
GARYGood afternoon, Kojo. Thanks for taking my call. I have -- I visited Yosemite quite a few times, and over the years it changed quite a bit. So first question is, can you talk a little bit about what's going on with Yosemite? And the second thing is, with all the retirees, couldn't the people who are retiring become volunteers at national parks to supplement the rangers and, you know, have them focus on the tougher jobs or the jobs that need more expertise?
NNAMDIA lot of them already do, but here's Jonathan Jarvis.
JARVISSure. I'll answer the second first. We have an army of extraordinary volunteers that work with us on a day-to-day basis, hundreds of thousands of volunteers that really do -- many of them come from the retiree community, and they do everything from search and rescue to man the visitor centers, to operate the campgrounds and to do interpretive programs. We love them, and we could not exist. And -- but they can't do everything.
JARVISAnd we love expanding our volunteer program, but it has to be balanced with our own workforce as well. Yosemite, which I used to have the direct responsibilities over when I was the regional director there, has gone through a lot of changes, probably most importantly lots of renovation in the valley, lots of new sort of walkways and much more accessible.
JARVISAnd we have the transportation system that we've put in place, the free shuttle buses that run around Yosemite Valley to give people an opportunity to move, bike paths. And, I mean, I think Yosemite is really in fantastic shape right now and very busy place. We're also going through plannings for the Tuolumne Meadows, which is up high on the crest, and I think you'd be pleased if you go back.
NNAMDIAnd speaking of volunteers -- Gary, thank you for your call. Speaking of volunteers, here is Phil in Gaithersburg, Md. Hi, Phil. You're a volunteer, aren't you?
PHILYes, yes. Yes, I am. I'm a member of the Palisades Bike Patrol out of Great Falls. But I patrol the entire land, so I travel up to Hancock, I go up to Cumberland, and I patrol different sections. I appreciate the work that the rangers are doing, and we bike patrollers feel that we're augmenting their work. Of course, we would like as many people who are -- and I am retired -- who are able bicyclists and have a propensity to help people and basically be a docent for the park, to join the Palisades Bike Patrol. We would, of course, love to have as many people just doing what I do.
NNAMDIPhil, thank you very much for your call and know that Jonathan Jarvis completely endorses what you do. I'd like to add that the -- another dimension to that, and that's kids. A common concern among environmentalists is that kids today spend so much time playing video games, texting, tweeting, that they're not outdoors learning to appreciate nature. Do you worry about that, about whether the next generation will care about the national parks as much as people like Phil or their parents might?
JARVISKojo, it keeps me up at night. It is a big worry for all of us that deeply are concerned about these extraordinary places that this next generation may not have as much appreciation for them as past generations have. And so -- but we know, absolutely, if you get these kids out into these environments, that they make a connection. And so we have programs working with schools.
NNAMDIYou have a program at Prince William Forest Park near the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia that offers urban kids an overnight experience in nature. Talk about that and the goal of that program.
JARVISWell, you know, what people don't know about Prince William Forest Park was that there are five cabin camps that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, you know, during FDR's day specifically for urban kids. These camps were designed and developed. They have kitchens and small cabins. They were designed to bring kids out of the District to get them into the outdoors.
JARVISSo maybe they were anticipating this issue well in advance. And so, for many years, they were used that way, and then that kind of dropped off for some reason. I have a soft spot for Prince William. I worked there early in my career. So we've restarted that program with this organization called NatureBridge to bring kids down and have an overnight experience.
JARVISAnd, you know, these are kids that have never seen stars, never been in quiet, never seen dark, you know, never, you know, heard sounds of nature for the environments that they live in in the urban situation, so this is an -- this can transform these kids, and we think that this is a great investment. We're not just -- we're not -- I want to be very particular. We're not trying to create a new cadre of environmentalists. We just want good citizens, and this is an opportunity for them to feel pride in their country.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Phil. We move on to Mike in Baltimore, Md. Mike, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MIKEYes. Hi. Thank you. You mentioned how you were going to take some steps to reduce some services that the Park Service, you know, does for sequestration. You mentioned law enforcement and, you know, trash clean up. But what about the things you cannot control? You mentioned a partnership with other agencies. So you're surrounded by, let's say, forest land.
MIKEWell, the forest service are going to have to cut some services that could be roads, it could be the U.S. Geological Survey running the Colorado River gauge. There were things that are outside of your controls. Do you have any idea how the other federal agencies and their sequester are going to affect the parks?
JARVISAbsolutely. We are trying to coordinate on the ground and here in Washington amongst the agencies where we have a lot of overlapping jurisdictions and responsibilities. And, you know, the National Park Service is part of the Department of Interior with USGS, the Fish and Wild Service, and the BLM. And then we work very closely with the U.S. Forest Service on the ground as well.
JARVISSo all of us are taking this 5 percent cuts, and all of us are trying to figure out who can help whom to pick up this whatever slack that we have. And so, yes, there are going to be multiple impacts such as the USGS lack of ability to maintain gauging stations. So maybe that's something we can pick up for them in certain locations because we're all really in this together.
NNAMDIMike, thank you for your call. We got an email from Wendy, who writes, "Our family, three generations ranging from eight to 72, already has reserved lodging, purchased airline tickets and reserved several rental cars for a trip to Yellowstone this summer. How will this trip be affected by climate change and/or the sequestration?"
JARVISWell, I don't think your trip will be affected by sequestration. I want to emphasize that the parks are open, they are welcoming. We love to see you come see us at any one of our national parks. I think what you might see if you come to Yellowstone is maybe a fewer rangers out on the walks, out on the boardwalks and hot pools or out standing beside, you know, an overlook to talk about Yellowstone Falls.
JARVISBut other than that, you might see a little more trash along the roads or in the trashcans in the camp grounds. The response time, if there is an emergency, might be slower for our folks to get there. But we are going to do our absolutely best to make sure that your experience is going to be extraordinary. In terms of climate change, I would talk to a ranger, if you can find one, to -- about what they're seeing in Yellowstone today from climate change.
NNAMDIHere now is Robin in Dover, Del. Robin, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
ROBINHi. Thank you for taking my call. You asked if we had any questions about federal parks.
NNAMDIWhat should the next national park be? Yes.
ROBINAnd I understand that Delaware is in great discussions about actually having a federal national park because they had never -- I think they're the only state who doesn't have one designated. And I was curious if you could talk about what you expect might happen in the timeline and all that.
NNAMDIDelaware, Jonathan Jarvis.
JARVISWe have got Delaware already done. Two week ago, President Obama used his powers under the Antiquities Act to designate the first state national monument, a new national park unit in the state of Delaware that recognizes its first state to ratify the Constitution. So three sites have been designated in Delaware, and we're very proud of that. It's some extraordinary properties outside of Wilmington called the Woodlawn, as well as two historical sites in and around New Castle and Dover. So just come to the national park system, Delaware.
NNAMDIDoes that work for you, Robin?
ROBINWell, I've traveled the country and gone to many of federal parks, and I was just curious what I was -- would be like. It sounds like they're more historical maybe and maybe less about nature. Is that correct?
JARVISFor Delaware, it's both. We've got the historical components, and then there's a large natural piece as well.
ROBINGreat. Excellent. Well, I have to start to reading my newspapers more closely. I knew it was in the works. I just didn't know where we were with it. Thank you very much.
NNAMDII'm glad you could find out about it here, Robin. Thank you for your call. Here is Belle in Silver Spring, Md. Hi, Belle.
BELLEHello. I just wanted to share an observation and my appreciation for the national parks and all that it does to preserve and make available the different areas in the country that it protect. My husband and I have five children, currently ages 12 to 20. And since they were very little, we had made a point of traveling within the United States and taking them to see deserts and mountains and forests and swamps, as well as monuments and historical places. But the nature thing has been very important to us.
BELLEAnd as a result, my kids, who play on their computers and on Facebook and texting, also have an appreciation for alligators and ospreys and elk, and we watch nature shows on TV. And we see, oh, there is the Grand Canyon, and remember when we went? And I think for our family, this has been very, very important in rounding our children and keeping them in touch with the world. So I just wanted to recommend that to other families and to say thank you very much to everybody at the Park Service who makes this possible for us.
NNAMDIYour Jonathan Jarvis' ideal family. Care to comment?
JARVISYes, we love you, and we love that you're bringing your kids. And they're making a connection, which I think is really important point here, between what they experienced online and social media, on the Internet to these places, that these places actually exist. There's a reality to it as well. And while the online is no substitute, it can also be a source of great information to go deeper, see videos, learn about wildlife and those kinds of things. But then we want you to also -- as you're doing is to take those kids out there and actually experience it first hand.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. We got an email from Kimberly, who says, "Can you please comment on how the NPS plans to implement the recently released National Fish Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy?"
JARVISWow. Somebody has been doing their homework.
JARVISThat's -- so the National Park Service participated along with -- particularly the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the development of that report. That looks across the United States at how migratory species, species at risk, environments that will be impacted directly and how we are going to manage for that.
JARVISFor instance, coastal environments that are very critical to migratory waterfowl will be changing. And we need to be planning for that and saying, we're is the next piece of habitat that perhaps we can restore to provide that for migratory species. The other piece is looking at the landscape and looking for connectivity for migratory species. So we're all working together on that.
NNAMDIAnne Marie in Washington, you're on the air. You only have about 40 seconds, Anne Marie.
ANNE MARIEThank you. I just wanted to thank Mr. Jarvis for the excellent camp sites, the wonderful programs that the rangers for the children in the evenings and, in general, the dedication of his rangers. They're all fantastic, and I thank you.
NNAMDIYou like to respond?
JARVISNo. A great way to end that conversation. Thank you very much.
NNAMDIWell, and then there is this. Email from Howard in Washington. "Last June, I seriously injured my knee while hiking toward the bottom of Bryce Canyon in Utah. National Park Service employees had to literally carry me out of the canyon and load me on an ambulance. They did a great job, and I just want to say thank you."
JARVISWell, thank you. We were -- we're happy that that worked out. We have some extraordinary individuals out there, rangers that can do some amazing things. And we take great pride in doing it well.
NNAMDIJonathan Jarvis is director of the National Park Service. Thank you for dropping by.
JARVISThank you, Kojo.
NNAMDIAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
Most Recent Shows
D.C.-based writer Paul Goldberg recently published his first novel, "The Yid." We talk with him about the story, how living in D.C. shapes his work and his 'day job' overseeing the influential Cancer Letter project.
Julette Saussy was hired by D.C. government less than a year ago to oversee reforms in the city's troubled fire and emergency medical services department. But she recently announced that she'd be quitting the post - and she says the department's failure to change is putting lives in danger.
Concerns about the mosquito-borne Zika virus have escalated - both among those who may be traveling to affected areas, but also now locally, where three cases were recently identified.