November 17, 2017

Terry Austin, Associate Director for Business Services
National Park Service, Office of Business Services
1849 C Street NW., MS 2717
Washington, DC 20240

Subject:  Nomination of Denis P. Galvin for “Made in America” Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee

Dear Ms. Austin:

I am writing to you on behalf of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks (Coalition), a non-profit organization of past and current National Park Service (NPS) employees and their allies that studies, educates, speaks, and acts for the preservation and protection of the National Park System and mission-related programs of the NPS. With over 1,400 members, the Coalition represents more than 35,000 years of experience managing and protecting America’s most precious and important natural and historic places.

Attached please find our nomination of Denis P. (“Deny”) Galvin for the Secretary’s “Made in America” Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee (Committee).

Strengths Deny Galvin would bring to the Committee

Mr. Galvin worked at senior levels of the NPS for almost 40 years. This experience provided him with extensive exposure to outdoor recreation and the public-private sector partnerships that complement the NPS mission. Highlights of his experience include the following: As head of Planning, Design and Construction for the NPS he was intimately involved in the rehabilitation of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, which was supported by a private fund raising initiative; along with other members of DOI and the Congress, he was involved in the initial drafting of the Presidio Trust legislation; and after retirement he served on the design jury at the Arch in St. Louis (JNEM) that resulted in a successful $300 million rehabilitation of the grounds and museum, which was funded and supported by numerous St. Louis organizations.

At various times during his career Mr. Galvin supervised many of the cooperative programs of the NPS that operate outside the confines of the National Park System to deliver conservation assistance to communities throughout the nation. And he formerly served on the boards of the National Recreation and Park Association and the National Society for Park Resources.

Retired since 2002, Mr. Galvin has no formal role or responsibility in federal land management policies or decisions. Yet, due to his lifelong commitment to the effective stewardship of America’s public lands, Mr. Galvin continues to be sought for his advice on a wide variety of land management issues by Congressional subcommittees and by a host of organizations interested in the provision of high quality visitor experience opportunities and the conservation of resources on public lands. Most recently, Mr. Galvin testified on March 16, 2017 before the House Committee on Natural Resources, Federal Lands Subcommittee, at its Oversight Hearing on Identifying Innovative Infrastructure Ideas for the National Park Service and Forest Service.

Due to his extensive experience, Mr. Galvin would offer a valuable perspective that may otherwise be absent from the Committee. As described in the Federal Register Notice (Notice), the Secretary will select Committee members “from among, but not limited to” a variety of private sector “industries” and recreational interests. The focus of the Committee will be to:

  • expand and improve visitor infrastructure developed through public-private partnerships;
  • implement sustainable operations embracing fair, efficient, and convenient fee collection and strategic use of the collected fees;
  • improve interpretation using technology; and create better tools and/or opportunities for Americans to discover their lands and waters; and
  • the Committee will also provide recommendations for implementation of Secretary’s Order 3347 – Conservation Stewardship and Outdoor Recreation.

We believe that it is important for the Committee to include and consider diverse points of view. We are concerned, however, that the Committee member selection process is heavily weighted toward specific “industries” that market and profit from national park and public lands use rather than toward the “people” (i.e., the visitors) who use parks and public lands and whose spending drives the local economic benefits of good public land stewardship.

It is well established that “visitor satisfaction” with their park and public lands experiences highly correlates to visitor spending that is fundamental to the local economic benefits of public land use. We also know that the quality of the landscapes and the conservation of natural and cultural resources in these special places is key to achieving “visitor satisfaction” and thus to sustaining visitation and visitor spending. Visitor satisfaction can also be affected by the quality and availability of services provided by the responsible agency as well as by the private sector. In essence, visitor satisfaction is a “three legged stool” dependent upon effective resource conservation and quality public sector and private sector visitor services.

Again, the proposed focus and composition of the Committee appears to be heavily weighted toward the private sector. This selection bias for prospective Committee members is a fundamental flaw in the process and will almost certainly limit the value of the outcomes of this initiative. A comprehensive approach that incorporates all three perspectives is critical to successful and creative problem solving by the Committee. It is essential that individuals with experience and expertise in the broad spectrum of resource conservation and public sector visitor services are included.

For these reasons, we nominate Deny Galvin for membership to the Committee. His expertise with public-private partnerships is well proven and he would undoubtedly contribute to constructive discussion and effective problem solving for the full range of issues that the Committee should evaluate. Accordingly, we encourage the Secretary to give Mr. Galvin’s nomination serious consideration.

Sincerely,

Phil Francis, Vice Chair
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
201 I Street, NE #805
Washington, DC 20002