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WGA Annual Meeting Day 1: Moving keynote by Dayton Duncan highlights National Parks celebration

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Dayton DuncanDayton DuncanA celebration of the National Park Service Centennial, including a moving speech by historian Dayton Duncan (listen), highlighted the first day of the Western Governors' Association 2016 Annual Meeting in Wyoming.

"The National Park idea says it doesn’t matter if your parents came over on the Mayflower or your parents just arrived," Duncan told attendees. "Each one of you, is the owner of some of the best seafront property this nation has ...You own awesome views of stunning mountains and breathtaking canyons. They belong to you. And all that is required in return is that you put it in your will for your children so that they can have it too."

Opening day of the meeting in Jackson Hole also featured a roundtable discussion of what the next 100 years might look like for the Naional Parks and a keynote on the significance of state parks by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.

WGA Chairman and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead opened the day by encouraging collaboration in tackling the issues of the West. "The common theme that we as Western Governors all celebrate is a bipartisan effort to address the policies that affect the West and the entire country."

Steve BullockMontana Gov. Steve BullockNine Western Governors, led by Gov. Mead, took part in the day's sessions, including Steve Bullock (Montana, WGA Vice Chair) Doug Ducey (Arizona), C.L. "Butch" Otter (Idaho), John Hickenlooper (Colorado), Brian Sandoval (Nevada), Jack Dalrymple (North Dakota), Dennis Daugaard (South Dakota), and Gary R. Herbert (Utah)

Highlights from the day's sessions at the Snow King Resort:

State Conservation Keynote: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, co-­winner of the 2015 Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award, offered a keynote on his state's 88 parks and historic sites and discussed the significance of Jay Nixon at podium speakingJay Nixonstate parks with Western Governors.

  • "Americas parks, lakes, forests and rivers are a unique opportunity to improve our health and quality of life. It’s also important to remember that getting outdoors is fun! In Missouri, getting outdoors isn’t just part of what we do, its who we are."
  • "Outdoor recreation is big business. We have spent a great deal of time focused on understanding the economic impacts. The same year that we set a record on state park attendance we also set a record in tourism. That’s not an accident."

Roundtable: National Park Service Centennial – The Next 100 Years

Governors and panelists discussed the challenges and opportunities facing the National Park System in the next century.

  • Dan Wenk, Superintendent, Yellowstone National Park: "The least studied species in Yellowstone is humans. We need to understand visitor expectations, as well as the impacts of burgeoning visitation on park resources.  We can’t propose solutions to overuse and maintenance backlogs unless we understand the problem."
  • Yellowstone Dan WenkYellowstone Superintendent Dan WenkJacque Lavelle, Superintendent, Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site: “Small units of the National Park System suffer from the fact that folks simply don’t know we exist. Grant-Kohrs Ranch was selected as National Historic Site because it could tell the story of cattle ranching in the U.S."
  • Will Shafroth, President and CEO, National Park Foundation: "The National Park Foundation is there to help the National Park System go from good to great. We do that in a complementary manner to help parks become more sustainable. We do work in educating and creating a connection between Parks and young people so we can inspire the next generation to love and engage with the Parks."
  • Gov. Gary Herbert: "Western Governors may each take a different approach to achieving a healthy economy. However, for all of us, tourism and travel are a big part of turning the page on what has been a challenging economic environment in recent years."

Keynote: The National Parks: America’s Best Idea

Standing O for DuncanWestern Governors and meeting attendees gave Dayton Duncan a standing ovationListen to his speech here. Award-winning author and filmmaker Dayton Duncan, who co-produced with Ken Burns the acclaimed documentary series on the National Parks, talked about the origins of “American’s Best Idea.”

  • "Like the idea of liberty itself, the National Park idea not only kept evolving and adjusting to our country's needs, it has spread beyond our borders to virtually every other nation in the world. That is one powerful idea."
  • "The National Park idea says it doesn’t matter if your parents came over on the Mayflower or your parents just arrived. Whether you're from a big city, a farm or a tiny town. Whether your daddy owns a factory or your momma is a maid. You, each one of you, is the owner of some of the best seafront property this nation has. You own majestic waterfalls. You own awesome views of stunning mountains and breathtaking canyons. They belong to you. And all that is required in return is that you put it in your will for your children so that they can have it too."

Read recaps of Day 2, Day 3
Recap: Species Conservation and ESA Initiative session
Read, download approved Resolutions

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