As the National Park Service (NPS) approaches its 100 year anniversary, it's launching a multifaceted Centennial campaign. One of the key campaign features focuses on developing a new generation of stewards that connect to these iconic, beautiful and historic places, and care for them in the future.

"Therein lies a great opportunity for the Lake Roosevelt community," said Andy Dunau, Executive Director of the Lake Roosevelt Forum. "This is also the 70th anniversary of NPS management of Lake Roosevelt as a National Recreation Area. What does the future hold for stewardship, recreation, visitation and protection of cultural resources?"

Statistically, the national parks counted 292 million visitors in 2014; of these, about 1.3 million came to Lake Roosevelt. The profile of those visitors tends to be older and whiter than the U.S. population overall. Said Dunau, "That's a nice way of saying millennials, who now outnumber boomers, need to be coaxed into the park system. The 50s campaign 'See the USA in your Chevrolet' isn't going to work."

Beginning with a plenary session on Wednesday, NPS will share the highlights of their Centennial campaign, and opportunities to leverage the campaign from both an economic and stewardship perspectives. Said Dan Foster, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area Superintendent, "One of the greatest challenges we face is developing stewards who have an appreciation for our national treasures and see the tangible and intangible benefits for their protection, now and into the future."

During the plenary and following sessions, local leaders will give their impressions of what's desirable as we look forward. In one session, historian Jack Nesbitt and NPS will take a look at where we've come from, while others will look at where we may be headed. In another session, leaders will describe development of an Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail and brainstorm what it may mean to the area and region.

Throughout, the dialog will consider ways for people to "connect to their parks" with marketing opportunities that build off of the natural resources and history unique to the area. "The trick," said Dunau "is how you protect and enhance the resource while allowing a new generation to experience its wonders."

Making the challenge more complicated is a national $11 billion backlog of unfunded maintenance. As a result, conversations will also consider the types of investments that need to be made and options for raising the dollars to make them.

Join us and join the conversation.

Complete program agenda with speakers to be released next week, stay tuned!!