19th Annual Stegner Symposium Focuses on Past, Present and Future of America’s National Parks

Consisting of more than 400 units that extend across all 50 states and covering more than 84 million acres, America’s national park system is much beloved, with more than 280 million visitors each year. But as America prepares to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, in 2016, many of our parks are facing serious issues that may detract from, rather than enhance, the visitor experience, including overcrowding, lack of resources, and invasive species.

On March 27 and 28, the Wallace Stegner Center’s 19th Annual Symposium, National Parks: Past, Present, and Future will examine the problems facing America’s national parks and explore possible solutions. The multi-disciplinary symposium, to be held at the Salt Lake City Library, will present a slate of speakers and panelists focusing on the history, current state and possible future of America’s National Parks.

Professor Robert Keiter, Director of the Stegner Center, said, “National parks may be America’s best idea, but our parks are regularly beset by challenges ranging from visitation pressures and funding shortfalls to climate change and nearby development proposals. The symposium will address these and other challenges, which will ultimately determine the future shape and size of this remarkable system.”

Speakers and panel presenters include Gary Machlis, National Park Service, addressing “Science, Resource Stewardship, and the Parks”; Audrey Peterman, Earthwise Productions, Inc, speaking on “The Diversity Challenge: Bringing New Visitors to the Parks”; Patricia Gude, Headwaters Economics, discussing “Commerce, Community Welfare, and the Parks”; and Mark Fiege, Colorado State University, speaking on “National Parks and the Course of Modern American History.”

On Thursday, March 27 from 4:45 to 5:30 p.m., Jonathan Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service, will deliver the keynote address, “The National Park Service at 100: Stewardship for a New Century.” Managing the National Park Service on the eve of its 2016 centennial, Jarvis has focused on several key areas that are critical for the future: enhancing stewardship of the places entrusted to the National Park Service’s care; maximizing the educational potential of parks and programs; engaging new generations and audiences; and ensuring the welfare and fulfillment of National Park Service employees.

The Symposium will be preceded on Wednesday, March 26 by the Wallace Stegner Lecture, which will be held at 12:15 p.m. in the Sutherland Moot Courtroom on the College of Law campus. Writer, historian and conservationist Paul Schullery, the author, coauthor or editor of more than 40 books, will discuss “Past and Future Yellowstones: Finding our Way in Wonderland.”

Symposium attendance requires registration and payment. For more information on the19th Annual Stegner Symposium, click here or call 801-585-3440.  The Wallace Stegner Lecture is free and open to the public, with no registration required, and provides one hour of free CLE.

Principal funding for the Stegner Symposium is provided by the R. Harold Burton Foundation and the Cultural Visions Fund. Sponsors include the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation, the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources; the Nature Conservancy in Utah; and the Natural Resources Law Forum.