NPS/GWU Sustainability Cooperative Project

On October 15th, doctoral students Nick Martin and Mark Andress and faculty members Theresa Jefferson and Jonathan Deason met with Shawn Norton of the National Park Service (NPS) and Jim Nations of the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). The NPCA is a civilian organization that was setup to be a partner organization to the NPS.

This meeting was setup to see if there were any correlations between the current GWU/NPS project and a similar project in the NPCA. The GWU/NPS project is currently in its first of two phases. This project was set up to assist the NPS with its Sustainability (“Greening”) Strategy. Students at GW are currently gathering information on the current state of sustainability within the national parks system, from an initial sample of 20 National Parks. The goal is to take this data and form a set of Best Management Practices.

The NPCA project, based out of their Center for State of the Parks, collects data from the parks, outside sources, and from their own funded research programs. This data is then analyzed based on a common matrix, and then organized in to a repository database for reference use. The matrix is designed to give an accurate account of the environmental, cultural, and overall health of each park studied.

The NPCA project also is still in its early phases (projected ongoing project goal to create in-depth and up to date reports for 128 parks by 2019, with a current goal of 44 by 2006). They have already made some first editions of their State of the Parks reports. Two of these first edition parks are Denali and Shenandoah national parks. In the case of Denali, a park with impeccable environmental quality, NPCA found that due to a lack of staff in the parks archeological department, the cultural health of the park needed some extra work. From this report they recommended to the NPS to hire another archeologist. In the case of Shenandoah, the report found that the environmental health of the park has been deteriorated by its neighboring communities encroaching on the park, and Mid-Western energy plant emissions creating a haze over the park.

The meeting compared these two projects and found some synergies in data sharing. In addition it was discovered that the NPCA's Business Plan Initiative Center might also have a symbiotic interest in the GWU/NPS project’s research.

Due to time constraints and the discoveries made at the meeting, another meeting has been set up for mid-November with more representatives from the NPCA.

Jonathan P. Deason, Ph.D., Lead Professor

The George Washington University
Engineering Management & Systems Engineering Department (EMSE)
Environmental & Energy Management Program (E&EM)
Fall 2003 (Volume 4, Number 2)