We were fortunate to hear from the National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis at the Innovative Cities Conference. He and many other US Interior Department officials have been on duty in the Gulf of Mexico region responding to the oil pollution disaster. I think his visit was evidence of how highly Lowell ranks in the minds of the NPS leadership. Lowell was one of a very few featured NPS units in the agency’s important Second Century Commission report last year. Read a news release with a link to the full report here. With the Ken Burns event on Wednesday night that emphasized Burns’ recent National Parks documentary and the Director’s visit on Friday, we had two great reminders of just how big a deal it is for Lowell to be a National Park site.
Director Jarvis accepted US Rep. Niki Tsongas’s invitation to speak at the Innovative Cities Conference on Friday because, among other things, he saw it as an excellent opportunity to emphasize the commitment of the NPS to America’s cities. From the Statue of Liberty to Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the NPS is a major presence in urban areas. The national monuments in Washington, D.C.; the Martin Luther King, Jr., historical site in Atlanta, Ga.; Salem Maritime National Historical Site in our region—all of these are the responsibility of the NPS.
The Director is heading back to the Gulf region tomorrow to resume his work as one of the “commanders” of the federal response effort in the midst of the unprecedented environmental disaster on the Gulf coast and in the waters. The NPS has many historic, recreational, and wildlife sites at risk in the region. He said the oil gushing from the sea-bottom is the equivalent of one supertanker emptying into the Gulf every day.