‘Lest We Forget’ – National Park Service Online Memorial

Katherine DeGroff’s article “Lest We Forget” in the Spring 2021 issue of, “National Parks” Magazine tells the story of former park service employee Jeff Ohlfs’ dedication to his project of memorializing online the deaths of National Park Service employees in the line of duty. 

According to DeGroff, “The memorial, which spans more than a century, sparingly documents the lives of 264 men and women, and includes references to more than 90 parks in over 35 states and territories.” The memorial went live last year when NPS was celebrating its 104th anniversary,

Reading the listings from start to finish honors not only those who died in falls, equipment wrecks, avalanches, plane crashes, and hostile encounters with law-breaking civilians, but with Ohlfs’ dedication to missing not a single person who died in the line of duty.

DeGroff quotes Ohlfs as saying, “We honor our military fallen. We honor our emergency services people. The National Park System isn’t too far away from that.” I agree, and I hope that when Ohlfs retires from his retirement duties, somebody with a love of the park service and the sacrifices it requires will step forward and carry the torch forward into the future, lest we forget.


Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing


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Glacier Park and Flathead Forest to Expand Visitor Use Research

from NPS Glacier National Park

WEST GLACIER, MT. – This summer, Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forest are expanding visitor use monitoring efforts to better understand use along the Middle Fork and North Fork of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River.

Flathead River – Wikipedia photo

For the past five years, Glacier National Park has been collecting data on trail, and road use along the Going-to-the-Sun Road and surrounding trails. This year, with a donation from the Glacier National Park Conservancy, monitoring will expand to the river and several other places within the park. The Flathead National Forest and Glacier National Park both manage segments of the North Fork and Middle Fork of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River. The other locations to be monitored include the North Fork, Two Medicine, Many Glacier, Goat Haunt, and Belly River.

The data, collected by the University of Montana, has been valuable to Glacier National Park as visitation has increased dramatically. With several years of data in hand, the park can now better inform visitors about how to plan their trips with crowding in mind, and also make educated decisions about where to station staff to best meet park needs.

“For the last few years, we have heard at our annual meetings with North Fork residents that river use seems to be increasing,” said Flathead National Forest Supervisor Chip Weber. “This information will allow us to better understand how much, where and when use is occurring. It will help us to better plan for proper facilities and management.”

“This is the sort of thing we could not do alone,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “With the expertise from the University of Montana and the financial support of the Glacier National Park Conservancy, we are conducting cutting edge research about the way our public lands are used here in northwest Montana.”

Monitoring technology used in the park and now expanded to the Flathead National Forest along the Flathead Wild and Scenic River include: tube counters placed along roads and trails, and camera counters that enable the calibration of mechanical counters and estimation of river use levels.

The data collected will better help the park and forest understand visitor use outside the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor, including the Flathead Wild and Scenic River. This information will establish baseline visitor use numbers which in turn will inform future planning efforts such as a Backcountry/Wilderness Stewardship plan for the park, and a joint Flathead Comprehensive River Management Plan for the park and forest.

National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund

The National Parks need your support, and your Representatives’ and Senators’ support of this bill before everything in the parks ends up broken, closed, offline, and dangerous due to lack of funding.

S. 751

To amend title 54, United States Code, to establish, fund, and provide for the use of amounts in a National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund to address the maintenance backlog of the National Park Service, and for other purposes.

March 28, 2017

Mr. Warner (for himself, Mr. Portman, Mr. King, and Mr. Kaine) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources


To amend title 54, United States Code, to establish, fund, and provide for the use of amounts in a National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund to address the maintenance backlog of the National Park Service, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the “National Park Service Legacy Act of 2017”.


(a) In General.—Chapter 1049 of title 54, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

§ 104908. National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund

“(a) In General.—There is established in the Treasury of the United States a fund, to be known as the ‘National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund’ (referred to in this section as the ‘Fund’).

“(b) Deposits.—At the beginning of each applicable fiscal year, there shall be deposited in the Fund from mineral revenues due and payable to the United States that are not otherwise credited, covered, or deposited under Federal law—

“(1) $50,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2018, 2019, and 2020;

“(2) $150,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2021, 2022, and 2023;

“(3) $250,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2024, 2025, and 2026; and

“(4) $500,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2027 through 2047.

“(c) Availability Of Funds.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in paragraph (2), amounts deposited in the Fund shall be available to the Service for expenditure without further appropriation.

“(2) UNOBLIGATED AMOUNTS.—Any amounts not obligated by the date that is 2 years after the date on which the amounts are first available shall be credited to miscellaneous receipts of the Treasury.

“(d) Use Of Funds.—Amounts in the Fund shall be used for the high-priority deferred maintenance needs of the Service, as determined by the Director, as follows:

“(1) 80 percent of amounts in the Fund shall be allocated for projects that are not eligible for the funding described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (2) for the repair and rehabilitation of assets, including—

“(A) historic structures, facilities, and other historic assets;

“(B) nonhistoric assets that relate directly to visitor—

“(i) access, including making facilities accessible to visitors with disabilities;

“(ii) health and safety; and

“(iii) recreation; and

“(C) visitor facilities, water and utility systems, and employee housing.

“(2) 20 percent of amounts in the Fund shall be allocated to road, bridge, tunnel, or other transportation-related projects that may be eligible for funding made available to the Service through—

“(A) the transportation program under section 203 of title 23; or

“(B) any similar Federal land highway program administered by the Secretary of Transportation.

“(e) Prohibited Use Of Funds.—No amounts in the Fund shall be used—

“(1) for land acquisition; or

“(2) to supplant discretionary funding made available for the annually recurring facility operations and maintenance needs of the Service.

“(f) Submission Of Annual Proposal.—As part of the annual budget submission of the Service to the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate (referred to in this section as the ‘Committees’), the Service shall submit a prioritized list of deferred maintenance projects proposed to be funded by amounts in the Fund during the fiscal year for which the budget submission is made.

“(g) Congressional Review.—After review of the list submitted under subsection (f), the Committees may provide for the allocation of amounts derived from the Fund.

“(h) Project Approval.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in paragraph (2), if, before the beginning of a fiscal year, the Committees do not alter the allocation of funds proposed by the Service for that fiscal year, the list submitted under subsection (f) for that fiscal year shall be considered approved.

“(2) CONTINUING RESOLUTION.—If, before the beginning of a fiscal year, there is enacted a continuing resolution or resolutions for a period of—

“(A) less than or equal to 120 days, the Service shall not commit funds to any proposed high-priority deferred maintenance project until the date of enactment of a law making appropriations for the Service that is not a continuing resolution; or

“(B) more than 120 days, the list submitted under subsection (f) for that fiscal year shall be considered approved, unless otherwise provided in the continuing resolution or resolutions.

“(i) Public Donations.—To encourage public-private partnerships that will reduce the overall deferred maintenance costs to the Service, the Secretary and the Director may accept public cash or in-kind donations by including on each list submitted to Congress under subsection (f) after the date of enactment of this section each project, regardless of the priority ranking of the project, that costs—

“(1) less than $2,000,000, with at least a 33-percent non-Federal cost-share component; or

“(2) equal to or more than $2,000,000, with at least a 25-percent non-Federal cost-share component.”.

(b) Clerical Amendment.—The table of sections for chapter 1049 of title 54, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

“104908. National Park Service Legacy Restoration Fund.”.

Summit Sets Course for Protecting America’s National Parks, Connecting to People

from the National Parks and Conservation Association

Historic gathering of leading national park champions shapes outline for supporting National Park Service’s mission for 2016 centennial and the century to follow

Recognizing a growing need to unite the advocates, partners and supporters of national parks in advance of the upcoming 2016 National Park Service (NPS) centennial and beyond, the most diverse group of national park leaders ever convened gathered last week in Washington, D.C. to attend America’s Summit on National Parks. The Summit was a first of its kind event established in coordination with the NPS through a partnership of the National Park Foundation (NPF), the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), and the National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA).

The two-day Summit, which took place January 24-26, was inspired by NPS’ recent Call to Action report [PDF download] and was designed to create unifying, clear objectives that will ensure the protection, enhancement, and support America’s iconic landmarks for centuries to come. The Summit inspired thought-provoking dialogue on some of the greatest challenges and opportunities facing national parks currently. The Summit produced a working document outlining the participants’ shared “Statement of Principles” and “Action Items” to ensure that the seeds of progress begun from the passionate and inspired conversations will take root, leading to growth, change, increased accessibility and ultimate strengthening of the national park system and national park programs. The Summit drew prominent members of Congress, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, major political advisors and top conservation, tourism and communication leaders.

In a joint statement regarding the Summit, Tom Kiernan, president of NPCA; Neil Mulholland, president of NPF; and Derrick Crandall, counselor of NPHA said:

“Our parks need to evolve with us. The passionate leaders and advocates who attended this Summit are committed to a united vision for the national parks to thrive in the next century. We understand that appropriate funding, diverse outreach, natural resource protection and conservation, updated facilities, and adequate staff are necessary to make sure our national parks remain attractive, healthy places for people to visit and enjoy. And, though there are many challenges, we are confident that this newly unified focus, support and dedication by the park community will make these goals obtainable.”

Yosemite - Call to Action Report

Among the most notable directives coming out of the Summit were to increase outreach to youth and other diverse populations; to make units within the NPS system more representative of the diverse makeup of the nation; to use technology, such as social media, smart phone applications, video games and other electronic technologies to attract visitors and improve park experiences; to highlight healthy food and opportunities for safe, active fun during park visits; to increase public awareness of the 2016 centennial; to create an endowment to provide the NPS with secure funding for the future; to encourage supporters and lovers of national parks to become more engaged with their members of Congress and other decision makers, and to grow the base of support for national parks, particularly among the health, education and tourism communities.

Leading up to the 2016 centennial, the current stewards of our national parks will take up the gauntlet thrown by this Summit. Through their work, these original goals will be enhanced and the shared vision will become action.

For more information about the Call to Action, click here.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of three novels set in Glacier National Park, “Sarabande,” “Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey,” and “The Sun Singer.”

Let’s stop Underfunding the National Parks

“Our national parks and monuments support $13.3 billion of local private-sector economic activity and 267,000 private-sector jobs. Yet our national parks suffer from a $580-million annual operating shortfall and a backlog of maintenance projects that exceeds $9 billion. — National Parks & Conservation Association (NPCA)

According to the NPCA, tourism in the National Parks was up 5% last year. This brought money into many local economies as visitors stopped at restaurants and service stations, bought souvenirs, stopped at grocery stores for picnic supplies, and stayed in hotels that are either locally owned or that employ many people from the region.

To my way of thinking, investing in the National Parks isn’t optional. At a time when more funds are needed, the President’s requested National Park Service budget for 2011 is $21.6 million less than the 2010 budget. Bluntly put, this is backwards thinking.

We’re looking at a sinking ship that keeps taking on more and more passengers.

In 2008, Dr. Dwight Pitcaithley, a former NPS chief historian, said that “the chronic under-funding of the National Park Service is not now and has not been for the past 50 years a matter of money – it is a matter of priorities!” That year, the $5 billion needed for the park service represented only 0.002 percent of the President’s proposed budget.

As I think of this, I’m reminded of many people I’ve known who purchase a new car every other year, go out to eat several times a week, hold a weekly barbecue and beer party in the back yard for their friends, and then complain that they can’t put a dime in a savings account, attend a concert or buy a novel. They love having skewed priorities and then complaining about how the results are not their fault.

The parks are the same way. When we overlook the the cost of handling the crowds, maintaining roads and trails, fighting fires and floods, and keeping the entire NPS infrastructure sound, we justify the unconscionably low NPS budget request by saying “why the hell do we need to spend all this money on a bunch of trees and lakes?”

We need to spend it because it’s where we live. It’s where our children will live. And it’s all connected to our spirituality and our culture and our air quality and our food supply and our water supply and our weather and to each of us–even if we never set foot on a trail or take a canoe ride down a river.

As the NPCA says, “Investing in the National Parks is investing in America.”


Purchases of my Glacier National Park adventure novel “The Sun Singer” and the e-book edition of my contemporary mythic saga “Garden of Heaven” benefit Glacier National Park through Vanilla Heart Publishing’s “Drop in the Bucket” Program.

National Parks Off the Beaten Track

Well-known parks such as Yosemite and Yellowstone often get more attention than the 56 other national parks. Here are ten others to consider as you make this summer’s vacation plans:

Smallest: Hot Springs, Arkansas. Only 5,549 acres, but it has 47 thermal springs. Jump in a tub and enjoy.

1860s bath house, Hot Springs - NPS

Least Visited: Kobuk Valley, Alaska. While Grand Canyon had 4.4 million visitors in 2008, Kobuk Valley only had 1,565. Why? It’s far away and there are no roads. Get a plane, boat or snowmobile and see what it’s like north of the Arctic Circle.

Most Bears: Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee. The park has an average of two black bears per square mile. No wonder there are often bear-sighting traffic jams along park roads.

Most Prehistoric: Petrified Forest, Arizona. Once upon a time it was a tropical floodplain. Now you can see 225 million years of history in the fossilized trees.

Tallest or Thickest: Your call. It’s either the Redwoods or King’s Canyon/Sequoia in California. The Redwoods include trees 38 stories high. While Sequoia has tall trees, too, they include the General Sherman tree that’s wider than three lanes of traffic.

Most Isolated: Isle Royale, Michigan. It takes a 3-5 hour boat ride to reach this primitive wilderness in Lake Superior.

Wettest: Olympic, Washington. You’ll find many ferns, mosses and lichens in this rain forest with an annual precipitation of twelve feet.

Darkest: Big Bend, Texas. In this remote and relatively cloud-free desert, the Milky Way is bright enough to cast a shadow.

Deepest: Crater Lake, Oregon. The lake in this volcanic basin is the seventh deepest lake in the world at 1,943 feet.

Crater Lake - NPS Photo

Newest: Great Sand Dunes, Colorado. This 30-square mile dune field was switched from a national monument to a national park in 2004. You’ll find short-horned lizards, bighorn sheep and mule deer here as well as some wonderful dunes to slide down.

Source: “National Parks Less Traveled” in AARP Magazine, May/June 2010

Purchases benefit the Glacier Park Centennial Program