Saturday, June 14, 2008

News---GNMP's Latschar Travels And 'Gives a Witness'

Gettysburg’s Super To Attend National Meeting Of Park Service Officials, Scot Andrew Pitzer, Gettysburg Times, June 11, 2008.

Gettysburg National Military Park confirmed Tuesday that battlefield Supt. Dr. John A. Latschar plans to attend a National Park Service conference next month in the Utah mountains. Latschar will be with about 400 other park superintendents from around the country July 16-17 in Snowbird, Utah, to hear from Washington, D.C. heavyweights.

Federal leaders stress that the $1 million conference — which includes travel, meals and overnight accommodations — is the first National Park Service seminar in 20 years, and that they’d like to schedule the meetings more often.

But the summit meeting, to be held at a private resort, has drawn ire from critics who argue that the price tag is too much, especially given the growing number of parks that can’t afford to maintain their acreage because of a lack of nationwide funding. In Gettysburg, the latest numbers available indicate that the battlefield maintenance backlog has surpassed $13 million. Staffs are also feeling the pinch.

During the past two decades, Gettysburg National Military Park has cut more than a dozen full-time staffers, about 25 part-time employees, and thinned its overall spending plan significantly. Staff cuts have come in the form of park rangers, maintenance workers, and two years ago, a staff preservationist. Many parks, because funding is readily unavailable, rely solely on volunteers.

Gettysburg National Military Park has avoided further cuts by developing non-profit partnerships. For example, the Gettysburg Foundation operates the new $103 million visitor center, alleviating the park of maintenance and management costs that it would otherwise be responsible for covering.


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