Special Live Chats on AOL
PARKS & PEOPLE ~ LIVE
Tuesday, April 18, 2000
Topic: Our National Parks
Moderator: Davinder Khanna
Rushmore National Memorial (2000)
Dan Wenk joined the National
Park Service in 1975 as a Landscape Architect at the Denver Service Center.
Subsequent assignments included park landscape architect for Yellowstone
National Park in 1979 with responsibilities for the planning and development
aspects of the park. He was named Superintendent of Mount Rushmore National
Memorial in 1985.
As Superintendent of Mount
Rushmore he developed a public/private partnership with the Mount Rushmore
National Memorial Society to raise over $50 million in non-federal funds for
the preservation of the sculpture and the redevelopment of visitor
facilities at the Memorial. This project was completed in July of 1998.
In 1995 he returned to the
Denver Service Center for nine months as Acting Team Manager for the Rocky
Mountain, Midwest and Southwest Regions of the National Park System, with
responsibility for the planning design and construction programs for those
While Superintendent of Mount
Rushmore was named Program Manager for the National Parks Pass authorized by
Congress in October of 1998. In January of 1999 he was named Co-Chair of the
National Park Service General Conference to be held in September of 2000.
HOST TRAVEL Park:
Hello everyone, we are pleased to welcome you to our chat series
"Parks & People Live." The topic of tonight's chat is "Our National
Parks" as we celebrate the National Park Week (April 17-23).
We are honored to have with us two distinguished guests, Dan Wenk,
Superintendent of Mount Rushmore and Paul Pritchard, President of
the National Park Trust.
Before we begin, I would like to thank HOST TRAVEL Jump, and LDRS
TRAVEL Judi for their assistance in tonight's chat. HOST TRAVEL Jump
will assist us in following a protocol so that the conversation can
Mr. Wenk and Mr. Pritchard, thanks for being our guest tonight.
Sup Dan Wenk: Good evening.
HOST TRAVEL Park: Ok, to start our session, Mr. Wenk, please
tell us a little bit about the new National Parks Pass and your role
as the program manager.
Sup Dan Wenk: The National Park Service launched the National
Parks Pass today that allows entrance to all NPS fee areas in the
system. The cost is $50 for one year. I had the pleasure of serving
as the program manager for the design and sale of the pass.
Sup Dan Wenk: The benefits of the pass is not only entrance
but also support of the NPS areas.
Sup Dan Wenk: Because over 80% of all revenue generated from
sales goes directly to benefit park areas questions the park pass
includes a collectable image - this year Yellowstone National Park.
Sup Dan Wenk: An important aspect of the pass is most of the
revenue will benefit those parks that do not charge entrance.
TallPrairy: What is your park doing for National Park Week?
Sup Dan Wenk: Mount Rushmore does not have any specific plans
for National Park Week. We have been concentrating on the launch of
PHorstrans: Let me get this right. $50.00 for one year allows
entrance to all parks charging a fee?
Sup Dan Wenk: That is correct, good for entrance fees only,
additional fees may be charged for camping, boat, launch etc.
MJOB76: Is that all national parks?
Sup Dan Wenk: All NPS areas that charge an entrance fee will
honor the National Parks Pass.
MJOB76: That's a good deal!
TallPrairy: Will the passes be sold at the parks?
Sup Dan Wenk: The National Parks Pass is available at NPS
areas that have entrance fees as well as online at www.nps.gov and
www.nationalparks.org. the passes were available starting today
Nypop1: What is the procedure for applying for a volunteer
position at a NP?
Sup Dan Wenk: You can apply at the individual park area that
you are interested in volunteering. I would recommend that you write
the Superintendent of that park.
Parkslands: What is the status of the Park's relationship
with the Native American community?
Sup Dan Wenk: The park areas are making a concerted effort to
include the native American community in our planning for the use
and development of park areas. If you have a question about an
individual park area, it would be best to contact that park.
PritchardP: I hope the pass makes more visitors aware of the
needs in the parks.
Parkslands: Does the park interpret the significance of the
region for Native Americans?
Sup Dan Wenk: We are working in our interpretive programs to
tell the total story of the park area including the context of the
communities that may have used the areas historically and for what
RCooper904: I understand there is a special pass for
disabled. Is it available at the first park visited?
Sup Dan Wenk: That is correct. If you have a permanent
disability, you are eligible for a Golden Access Pass. This is a no
fee pass with no expiration. It can be obtained at the fee park area
that you visit.
RCooper904: Thank you!
Parkslands: There have been many proposals to add Ronald
Reagan to the assembled presidents. How do you handle the issue?
Sup Dan Wenk: First, Mount Rushmore is complete in the
present configuration. Gutzon Borglum who carved Mount Rushmore did
it as a tribute to the first 150 years of our country's heritage.
Any additional figures is outside the intent of the artist and we
believe that the memorial is complete today. In addition, the rock
is not suitable for any additional figures because if is soft and
fractured. the design had to be changed nine time during the carving
to accommodate the four presidents now there. Simply no more room
exist for more.
HOST TRAVEL Park: Sup Wenk, what's the process of becoming a
partner organization to distribute the new National Parks Pass?
Sup Dan Wenk: The law allows the NPS to select retail
partners. We are negotiating with a limited number of companies that
support the travel industry or NPS area.
HOST TRAVEL Park: So, a nonprofit national park organization
can apply to be that partner?
Sup Dan Wenk: Interested retail partners should contact the
National Park Foundation, who is under contract with the NPS to
manage the National Parks Pass program, at 202-785-4500.
Ahapyhiker: Isn't there a pass for seniors? What is age
requirement, cost and durations of pass?
Sup Dan Wenk: The Golden Eagle Pass is available for a one
time $10 cost to senior citizens that have reached the age of 62.
This is also available at NPS fee areas. This is a life time pass.
WIGWAM3: Is there a fee to see Mt Rushmore now?
Sup Dan Wenk: No entrance fee, a limited amount of free
parking is at the memorial, but most of the parking is operated by a
concessioner with an $8 cost.
PritchardP: Dan, you are bringing a lot of innovation to the
HOST TRAVEL Park: Hello every one, we also have Paul
Pritchard onstage with us who will take questions on citizens
involvement in protecting our national parks.
Parkslands: Are there any necessary treatments under way to
preserve the rock sculpture?
Sup Dan Wenk: We have completed a structural analysis of the
carving and determined the rock blocks that make up the memorial. We
are currently monitoring those blocks to detect any movement.
Currently, we know that no immediate danger exist at the Memorial.
Sup Dan Wenk: We do patch the cracks to make sure that water
does not get into the carving and cause failure because of the
freexe thaw cycles.
Scotkuilt: I've heard that fuel prices are hindering travel
this summer, will this affect the NPS?
Sup Dan Wenk: The NPS has projected an overall increase in
visitation this summer of 1.6%. We will all just have to wait and
see. Other years, it has had minimal affect.
PritchardP: Scotkuilt, are the prices still going up where
Sup Dan Wenk: Prices seem to have come down over the last few
PritchardP: Since most of the visitors come by car, fuel
prices have always affected park visitation but usually, reductions
only occur when there is a crisis.
Parkslands: Do you have a long range plan regarding
transportation access to the Park?
Sup Dan Wenk: One aspect of visitation is that visitors can
visit many park areas that are closer to their homes the NPS has 379
sites throughout the United States, many a short distance away.
PritchardP: Yosemite just came out with its major
transportation plan. Every park has to deal with transportation
Sup Dan Wenk: In many places transportation systems are being
considered and designed to reduce the impact of the auto on the park
landscape. In most cases those are large western parks with heavy
PritchardP: The NPS director is to be congratulated for
separating jet skis as rec, not trans.
WIGWAM3: What can we do to assist with problems and
Sup Dan Wenk: Get involved, as volunteers as park advocates,
learn more about the park areas that are near you
PritchardP: WIGWAM3, I agree with Dan. We need you as an
active volunteer. I think it is best to adopt the park you like the
most and help it.
Sup Dan Wenk: We are always looking for help and learn better
ways to conduct our business.
Scotkuilt: We planned on going to Alaska from Florida for the
summer, can't now. Too expensive.
Sup Dan Wenk: I understand the disappointment in not making
that trip. However, I encourage everyone to visit the park areas
that are more accessible to them. A wealth of history to be
discovered in the park areas.
REX GIN 50: Is the great Smokey Mountain Park being hurt by
Sup Dan Wenk: One of the most extensive natural resources
research projects is being conducted there. I would suggest you
contact that park for specific information.
HOST TRAVEL Park: Sup Wenk, are all cooperating associations
in various national parks are automatically distribution partners of
National Parks Pass or NPS will do the selection among them?
Sup Dan Wenk: Cooperating Associations are selling the pass
in many park areas that are not fee areas. This is as a service to
visitors to other units of the system. Not all cooperating
associations will sell, but many are excited about helping the NPS.
Sup Dan Wenk: We also believe that many may purchase the pass
to show their support for the NPS system.
GRAMER13: Why are all park accommodations listed with amfac?
they are so hard to deal with.
Sup Dan Wenk: Amfac is just one of many concessioners in the
NPS. Many other concessioners operate facilities in the parks, not
at Mount Rushmore.
Parkslands: Are there noticeable impacts in your park from
Sup Dan Wenk: We have constructed the facilities to
accommodate the traffic.
WIGWAM3: I live near Rocky Mt Nat Park. Who would I contact
Sup Dan Wenk: Contact the superintendents office in Estes
Park. Superintendent is Randy Jones
WIGWAM3: Thank you
Ahapyhiker: Is it allowable to volunteer on a part time
basis, perhaps for 2 or 3 weeks?
Sup Dan Wenk: Absolutely. Many park areas have special
projects to meet your areas of interest. They will work with your
schedule to accomplish.
PritchardP: Another way to volunteer short or long term is to
help a volunteer group. You can help more than just one park.
Ahapyhiker: Thank You
TallPrairy: What is the greatest danger to our national park
Sup Dan Wenk: Many things could be listed but I would suggest
apathy on the part of the American public. It could be the biggest
danger if we do not understand the treasures that have been
preserved for this and future generations and support the system it
will be diminished because of it.
PritchardP: I agree with the Supt. We need more concerned
people. For example, many don't know there are private lands inside
Bago98: We're planning to visit Yellowstone in JUL. Is it in
good shape for RV's?
Sup Dan Wenk: The roads are being fixed and the park is doing
great. I hope you have a wonderful visit.
HOST TRAVEL Park: Well friends, the scheduled time with our
guests is coming to an end. Our sincere thanks to Dan Wenk and Paul
Pritchard for giving us their valuable time tonight. Hope we will
have another opportunity to interact with them online.
My thanks also go to Jennifer Mummart for her assistance.
Last but least, we thank every one in the audience for their
Remember, the Keyword on AOL is PARKS. :)
PritchardP: Thanks to you all for caring.
HOST TRAVEL Park: Good night every one!
America's Parks Online
Bloomfield Drive, Suite 103, Alexandria, VA 22312 ● 571-218-9541