Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Molly Ward Appointed To National Park System Advisory Board

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Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland recently appointed 15 new members to the National Park System Advisory Board, including Molly Ward, assistant director of government and community relations for Downtown Hampton Development Partnership (DHDP) and board member for the Fort Monroe Foundation and Chesapeake Conservancy. Ward is also the former Secretary of Natural Resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia and former Mayor of the City of Hampton. The National Park System Advisory Board was first created in 1935 to advise the Secretary and Director of the National Park Service (MPS) on matters relating to the Park Service’s work.

“National parks are some of the most visible and important forums for visitors to explore the outdoors and learn the complicated yet vital story of America,” said Haaland in a press release. “The new National Park System Advisory Board members represent experienced practitioners in cultural and natural resources management as well as experts in relevant academic fields including environmental law, geography, and history. I look forward to their insight as we work to make our public lands accessible and inviting to all.”

In addition to its advisory role, the board also has a regulatory role in recommending new National Natural Landmarks and National Historical Landmarks and provides recommendations regarding the national historic significance of proposed National Historic Trails. In recognition of the importance of hearing Tribal voices and perspectives when making management decisions that impact public lands and waters, Secretary Haaland added a requirement that at least one member of the board be from a federally recognized Tribe.

“The challenges faced by the National Park Service reflect the challenges faced by our nation,” said NPS Director Chuck Sams in a press release. “Whether it’s an increasing demand for dwindling resources, the impacts of a changing climate, or the struggle to understand how our past influences today’s injustices, recommendations developed by the National Park Service Advisory Board will help us strengthen our connection to the land and our history.”

The terms of the appointed members are not to exceed four years. The National Park System Advisory Board will meet for the first time later this year.

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