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Listening Session Two-Step


    Well, the National Park Service has released the "official" schedule of its upcoming listening sessions to collect public thoughts on how the agency's centennial should be commemorated.
    Kind of. 
    The problem, and I hope this isn't indicative of what's to come, is that the right hand doesn't seem to know what the left hand is doing. I raise that point because the folks at Great Smoky Mountains National Park have issued two press releases saying Tuesday's meeting with Dirk and Mary will be in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, while some others are saying the meeting will be in Knoxville, Tennessee.
    Here's what the folks in Washington are saying:
    "The first session will be in eastern Tennessee, in the area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park." (my emphasis).
    Yep, somewhere, sometime, in eastern Tennessee. So mark your schedules. Be there!

    My money's on Gatlinburg, because the Great Smokies folks, in their second release, gave directions on how to get to the meeting site and identified a time, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. I checked with the Park Service communications staff in Washington, but as of this afternoon they couldn't say for sure where the meeting would be.
    In fact, so far the Park Service doesn't have any details to release other than the cities in which the meetings will be held. "Venues and additional sessions will be announced at a future date," the agency says.
    Anyway, this schedule is a killer. I can see why they've split up the chore of attending these meetings among a range of Interior and Park Service staff. Between Tuesday's mystery meeting in Tennessee and March 29th there will be at least 16 meetings in places ranging from Anchorage, Alaska, to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
    Here's the lineup, times and locations yet to be determined:
    * Tuesday, March 13: Somewhere in eastern Tennessee
    * Wednesday, March 14, Anchorage, Alaska
    * Thursday, March 15, St. Louis, and Boston
    * Tuesday, March 20, San Antonio, Texas, New York City, and Seattle
    * Wednesday, March 21, Denver and San Juan, Puerto Rico
    * Thursday, March 22, San Francisco, and Miami
    * Monday, March 26, Cleveland, Ohio
    * Tuesday, March 27, Albuquerque, Atlanta, and Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
    * Wednesday, March 28, Washington, D.c.
    * Thursday, March 29, Los Angeles
    As I feared in my listening session post last month, the meetings aren't terribly close to parks.  No meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, gateway to Grand Teton and Yellowstone, no meeting in Fresno on the way to Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, and no meeting in Moab, the front door to Arches and Canyonlands. And I realize that's largely the result of logistics.
    Still, why no meeting in Salt Lake City, in a state that claims five national parks, a good handful of national monuments and national recreation areas, and a major Delta Airlines hub? At least Salt Lake City is easy to identify, unlike that mystery location in Tennessee.
    If you can't attend one of these meetings, you can voice your thoughts on the centennial challenge at this site.


Well, Kurt, as I also mentioned, actually Washington, D.C., is close to many parks run by the NPS, several battlefields, Great Falls NP, Shenandoah, and of course the city parks of DC. We have a whole different experience with the NPS here, and they are definitely noticed due to the very complex and overlapping law enforcement jurisdictions. But, I get your point.

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