WASHINGTON – A new year brings new opportunities to discover species, renovate museums, get kids outdoors to learn and to improve transportation in America’s national parks. For the second year of its Centennial Challenge, the National Park Service will match federal funds with contributions from park partners to prepare national parks for another century of conservation, preservation and enjoyment. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and National Park Service Director Mary A. Bomar, today announced $27 million in centennial projects, $10.5 million from the federal government combined with $16.5 million in philanthropic giving.

“Today, we celebrate the 2008 successes of the National Park Centennial Challenge and announce a new round of centennial projects that will serve as the cornerstones of improvements at our national parks and help to ignite another 100 years of excellence throughout the National Park System,” Secretary Kempthorne said of the 2009 projects. “This is truly a remarkable list of projects and programs, made possible only through these historic public/private partnerships.”

Director Bomar said, “In these economic times, creative efforts like the Centennial Challenge provide a great return on investment for both the American taxpayer and the philanthropic community. Where else can you be guaranteed to at least double your money?”

President Bush launched the National Park Service Centennial Initiative in 2006 as a 10-year effort to prepare national parks for another century of conservation, preservation and enjoyment in time for the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary. The initiative comprises two funding components – the Centennial Challenge and operational enhancement funding – and furthers goals in the areas of stewardship, environmental leadership, recreational experience, education and professional excellence.

Centennial Challenge projects and programs for 2009 are:

Haleakala National Park, Hawaii Remove and control invasive species and restore rare and endangered plants $600,000 – Maui Invasive Species Committee; $600,000 – Centennial Challenge Superintendent Marilyn Parris, (808) 572-4401

Independence National Historical Park, Pennsylvania Rehabilitate the Ben Franklin Museum at Franklin Court $12,000,000 – The Pew Charitable Trusts (lead donor); $6,000,000 – Centennial Challenge Superintendent Cynthia MacLeod, (215) 597-7120

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana BioBlitz! Conduct an all-taxa biodiversity inventory $150,000 – National Geographic Society; $150,000 – Centennial Challenge Superintendent Costa Dillon, (219) 926-7561

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, Missouri Replace the Arch tram operating system $185,000 – Metro Business Enterprises; $185,000 – Centennial Challenge Superintendent Tom Bradley, (314) 655-1600

Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska Improve Exit Glacier visitor facilities $100,000 – Alaska Geographic; $100,000 – Centennial Challenge Superintendent Jeff Mow, (907) 224-7500

National Capital Parks – East, Washington, D.C. Expand “Bridging the Watershed” environmental education program $200,000 – Alice Ferguson Foundation; $200,000 – Centennial Challenge Superintendent Gayle Hazelwood, (202) 690-5127

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, California Rehabilitate Gillette Ranch building as a visitor center $2,640,000 – Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority; $2,640,000 – Centennial Challenge Superintendent Woody Smeck, (805) 370-2344

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska Add transportation gateway and exhibits in the Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark $50,000 – Stephen and Mary Birch Foundation, Inc.; $50,000 – Centennial Challenge Superintendent Meg Jensen, (907) 822-5234

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho Conduct molecular all-taxa biodiversity inventory for Yellowstone Lake $500,000 – Yellowstone Park Foundation; $500,000 – Centennial Challenge Superintendent Suzanne Lewis, (307) 344-2010

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