National Public Lands Day Celebration with Alfred Runte

Author Alfred Runte
September 16, 2008
In recognition of the 15th annual National Public Lands Day, Grand Teton National Park will host a presentation by guest speaker, Alfred Runte, on Saturday, September 27 at 2 p.m. in the Director’s Room at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, Wyoming. This presentation is free and open to the public; an author book signing will follow in the Discovery Center’s bookstore. In addition to Runte’s special appearance, all entrance fees (including commercial tour fees) will be waived for visitors entering Grand Teton National Park on September 27.

Alfred “Al” Runte is an environmental historian and former college educator who taught at five major institutions of higher education, including Baylor University in Waco, Texas and the University of Washington in Seattle. Runte's literary works focus on parks, conservation, and public transportation. He has written numerous books on these subjects; his first book, National Parks: The American Experience (1979; revised 1987, 1997), has been praised as the definitive study of the national park idea. Recently, Runte completed a history of railroads and the environment, titled Allies of the Earth: Railroads and the Soul of Preservation. Runte is also advising Ken Burns on a forthcoming PBS series titled “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” due to air in the fall of 2009.

Runte’s lecture, Our Public Lands: An American Legacy, will focus on public lands with an emphasis on the National Park System. During his talk, Runte plans to encourage his audience to ponder such questions as: How did our public lands come into being? What should be done to protect them? Are public lands something that Americans want to protect for future generations, and maintain for their present-day use and enjoyment?

Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott expressed her support of National Public Lands Day and stated that, “With the fall color display and watchable wildlife, September is a truly special time to visit Grand Teton National Park and take advantage of a free entry day. I hope that local residents and park visitors will also make time to attend Mr. Runte’s presentation, which promises to be informative and thought-provoking.”

National Public Lands Day began in 1994 with the purpose to increase awareness of the value of all public lands, to foster shared stewardship of America’s national resources, and to encourage people to volunteer their time. Federal land agencies have created partnerships with private individuals and citizen groups in an effort to improve, restore or enhance public lands and to provide additional opportunities for education, outdoor recreation, and enjoyment. Eight federal agencies and many state and local partners, plus dozens of non-profit organizations, tens of thousands of individuals, and national sponsor Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. are expected to participate in this annual day of caring for shared lands.

National Public Lands Day is the only time that entrance fees are systematically waived on public lands across the country. In addition to national park units, fees will be waived at other land management sites, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Forest Service. In addition to National Public Lands Day, United States veterans are admitted free to national parks each year on Veteran’s Day.

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