You are browsing the archive for community.

Achieving Critical Goals Through Partnerships

August 27, 2013 in Education

Through partnership and collaboration, there are unique and creative ways parks are able to secure vital funding for projects and initiatives that enhance the visitor experience. A great example is the Gardiner Gateway Project, a partnership effort to create a design that will improve the visitor experience through the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park located next to the gateway town of Gardiner, Montana. The Gardiner Gateway Project is a collaborative effort of 15 different organizations that will address traffic congestion, pedestrian safety, infrastructure improvements, and economic development.

Funding for the project was secured through a grant proposal which was submitted by the National Park Service (NPS) and Park County, Montana.  Approved by the Montana Program Decisions Committee, the Gardiner Gateway Project will receive $10.3 million from the Federal Lands Access Program, which helps fund state and local transportation repair and improvement projects.   With local matching funds from NPS and Park County, total project funding is nearly $12 million.  The National Park Foundation’s (NPF) resident Transportation Scholar, Katrina Hecimovic is spearheading Yellowstone’s participation in the project.

While the Gardiner Gateway Project addresses a specific park / gateway community need, similar challenges can be found at parks across the system.  To address this need, the National Park Foundation created the Transportation Scholar program. Now in its 12th year, the Transportation Scholar program selects emerging transportation professionals to work side-by-side with National Park Service staff to research sustainable, alternative solutions to address the growing and unique transportation issues in America’s national parks, including traffic, pollution, congestion, and engaging gateway communities. A total of 57 scholars working at 46 NPS units have provided lasting, positive impact to parks and visitors alike.

Scholars bring professional expertise, new ideas and energy, and propel parks forward in planning for alternative transportation systems. Previous scholars’ work has resulted in more than fourteen million dollars in private and public funding to put the Transportation Scholars’ plans into action. Past scholars have gone on to careers with the National Park Service, the Federal Highway Administration, the Department of Transportation and many private consulting agencies.

The Transportation Scholars program model has proven so successful that the Transit in Parks Technical Assistance Center (TRIPTAC) launched a complementary program last year, expanding the program to all public lands.  This new extension, the TRIPTAC Public Lands Transportation Scholars Program, is based on the NPF program model and matches Transportation Scholars with one of three other federal land management agencies. The two programs work together to train and mentor scholars with the shared goal of preserving our nation’s valuable natural, cultural, and historic resources and enhancing the visitor experience by implementing sustainable, alternative transportation in national parks and public lands.

How does your park or organization partner to achieve critical goals?