Since our founding 20 years ago, the Coalition has been an advocacy organization, offering the expertise of our membership on precedent setting issues impacting national park units, the National Park Service, or the National Park System. The collective knowledge of the Coalition’s membership uniquely positions us to offer our “Voices of Experience” to decision makers as they consider and formulate policies and actions that impact our national parks and public lands. There are currently 424 park units with many, many issues and actions to consider; and, while our voices are strong, we are still a small organization with limited capacity. There are only so many issues we can handle at a time. So how does the Coalition decide which issues to engage in?

The first thing our Issues Committee does when deciding whether to be involved in an issue is consider if the policy, legislation, regulation, or decision has system-wide implications. The Coalition was founded by concerns about the NPS budget and management policies, attempts to reopen old “roads” in western parks that had been created under an obscure 1866 federal mining law (R.S. 2477), proposed changes in federal air quality policies, and a government-wide competitive sourcing initiative.

Similarly, the Coalition may become involved in a park specific issue if the action has the potential to become precedent setting. For example, the Coalition recently offered comments on the proposed visitor management system at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Additionally, the Coalition will speak out in support of management initiatives that may be difficult or controversial but necessary to preserve park resources consistent with law.

When there are issues at hand that may impact park resources but are not necessarily precedent setting, the Coalition often partners with other organizations to help us engage in advocacy actions. Using this criteria, this year the Coalition has joined other groups in raising concerns over the proposed Prince William Digital Gateway adjacent to Manassas National Battlefield Park and the proposed Wilderness Crossing commercial development adjacent to the Wilderness Battlefield unit of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

With these guiding principles, the Issues Committee, a subset of the Executive Council, uses the following considerations to help determine whether the Coalition should take up an issue.

  • Is there a threat to park resources and values?
  • Will our effort make a difference in protecting those resources and values?
  • Will the effort help create greater protection of a vulnerable area, such as the designation of a national monument or marine protection area?
  • Does the Coalition have the capacity and expertise to make a timely and substantive response within the given time frame?
  • Would collaboration with like-minded organizations provide a more authoritative and efficient response?
  • What are the positions of others, including Coalition members, the NPS, or like-minded groups?
  • Is this an issue where NPS cannot speak for itself because of external forces?

There is an incredible network of former and retired NPS employees and volunteers within the Coalition who remain passionately committed to protecting our parks. Our Executive Council members and Coalition staff stay in close contact with the conservation community, former colleagues, partners, and friends to track the issues that may impact national parks and public lands.

While there are numerous long-standing issues the committee continues to track, there are always new issues to address. We welcome input from Coalition members on issues or concerns. Members and supporters can submit comments through our web portal or send an email to ed****@pr********.org. While we cannot guarantee that the Coalition will be able to engage on every issue raised by our membership, we can promise to look into it. Our Voices of Experience are valuable, and we appreciate the support and dedication of our members.