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HomeNewsArchivesPARK BUSINESS PLAN QUANTIFIES OPERATIONAL NEEDS

PARK BUSINESS PLAN QUANTIFIES OPERATIONAL NEEDS

Oct. 30, 2001 – V.I. National Park Supt. John King gives the park a grade of "C-minus" for its ability to meet visitor needs and protect its natural resources. But he has a new economic map with guidelines to follow for bringing it up to an "A."
With the help of two consultants from the National Park Service and Conservation Association, the park staff started work in June on the development of a "business plan initiative" to help quantify the difference between where is and where it would like to go, something called a "gap analysis" in park parlance. The goal is to have the park operate more like a business and less like a government bureaucracy.
"On a previously vague road map for the future of the Virgin Islands National Park, we now have a clearly marked and fully justified path," King said.
And to follow that path, he added, "We need 32 people and $2.6 million a year" above current staffing and budget levels.
Students from the nation's leading business and public policy graduate programs teamed up to develop the plan, a 35-page document which is posted in its entirety on the Friends of the V.I. National Park web site. Click on "National Park Planning" element in the lower center of the page, then on the listing "Download Virgin Islands National Park Business Plan." The pdf-format document requires Adobe Acrobat Reader software, which is available for downloading free online.
King said the plan will help the park justify its needs to National Park Service regional and federal officials who control the purse strings. "It gives thoughtful consideration to what it takes to operate a park," he said.
The park on St. John and most of the 47 other national parks that have developed a business plan are all in about the same boat, King said. All had a shortfalls that hit around 40 percent of their existing staffing and budget needs. Chronic underfunding is a problem all over, he said.
"We aren't going to be able to secure the future of the parks until we can readily explain what happens to current funding, what needs fixing, and how much it costs to run parks adequately," King said.
However, he added, the V.I. National Park is in much better shape than it was just a few years ago. "This park was a very poor park until three or four years ago," he said, noting that if parks could declare bankruptcy, this one would have been a good candidate.
The operations budget has risen by $1.9 million over the last two years to $5 million. King said only one other national park has received such a hefty rate of increase.
Some park projects are funded through special park appropriations, such as the one that paid for the new Visitor Center that opened last year. In addition, the park receives grants and gifts from the Friends of the Park and other organizations.
Joe Kessler, V.I. Friends president, said the group expects to provide $485,000 in funding for projects this fiscal year. They include the installation of moorings and hurricane chains, a study of African dust, the development of a coral reef digital video disk for distribution to schools, the creation of an interactive kiosk for the Visitor Center, erosion control on Maho Bay Road, improvements at Hassel Island on St. Thomas, and a host of other projects soon to get under way.
King said the business plan will help groups such as the Friends of the Park to target areas that need funding. While he expects there won't be more big budget increases for parks anytime soon, given the stresses on the national economy, he sees money coming down the pike for some special projects.
For example, he said, the V.I. park will get $248,000 in startup funding for the new Coral Reef National Monument, located off St. John and supervised by park staff. He also expects to receive $360,000 to develop a general management plan for the monument and $760,000 to do the same for the park over the next two years.
King also anticipates getting in-kind help from the NPS Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Agency. The agency is expected to send two community planners to work on projects such as signage for Cruz Bay and has offered to facilitate meetings to solicit input on a master plan for the town, he said.

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Oct. 30, 2001 - V.I. National Park Supt. John King gives the park a grade of "C-minus" for its ability to meet visitor needs and protect its natural resources. But he has a new economic map with guidelines to follow for bringing it up to an "A."
With the help of two consultants from the National Park Service and Conservation Association, the park staff started work in June on the development of a "business plan initiative" to help quantify the difference between where is and where it would like to go, something called a "gap analysis" in park parlance. The goal is to have the park operate more like a business and less like a government bureaucracy.
"On a previously vague road map for the future of the Virgin Islands National Park, we now have a clearly marked and fully justified path," King said.
And to follow that path, he added, "We need 32 people and $2.6 million a year" above current staffing and budget levels.
Students from the nation's leading business and public policy graduate programs teamed up to develop the plan, a 35-page document which is posted in its entirety on the Friends of the V.I. National Park web site. Click on "National Park Planning" element in the lower center of the page, then on the listing "Download Virgin Islands National Park Business Plan." The pdf-format document requires Adobe Acrobat Reader software, which is available for downloading free online.
King said the plan will help the park justify its needs to National Park Service regional and federal officials who control the purse strings. "It gives thoughtful consideration to what it takes to operate a park," he said.
The park on St. John and most of the 47 other national parks that have developed a business plan are all in about the same boat, King said. All had a shortfalls that hit around 40 percent of their existing staffing and budget needs. Chronic underfunding is a problem all over, he said.
"We aren't going to be able to secure the future of the parks until we can readily explain what happens to current funding, what needs fixing, and how much it costs to run parks adequately," King said.
However, he added, the V.I. National Park is in much better shape than it was just a few years ago. "This park was a very poor park until three or four years ago," he said, noting that if parks could declare bankruptcy, this one would have been a good candidate.
The operations budget has risen by $1.9 million over the last two years to $5 million. King said only one other national park has received such a hefty rate of increase.
Some park projects are funded through special park appropriations, such as the one that paid for the new Visitor Center that opened last year. In addition, the park receives grants and gifts from the Friends of the Park and other organizations.
Joe Kessler, V.I. Friends president, said the group expects to provide $485,000 in funding for projects this fiscal year. They include the installation of moorings and hurricane chains, a study of African dust, the development of a coral reef digital video disk for distribution to schools, the creation of an interactive kiosk for the Visitor Center, erosion control on Maho Bay Road, improvements at Hassel Island on St. Thomas, and a host of other projects soon to get under way.
King said the business plan will help groups such as the Friends of the Park to target areas that need funding. While he expects there won't be more big budget increases for parks anytime soon, given the stresses on the national economy, he sees money coming down the pike for some special projects.
For example, he said, the V.I. park will get $248,000 in startup funding for the new Coral Reef National Monument, located off St. John and supervised by park staff. He also expects to receive $360,000 to develop a general management plan for the monument and $760,000 to do the same for the park over the next two years.
King also anticipates getting in-kind help from the NPS Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Agency. The agency is expected to send two community planners to work on projects such as signage for Cruz Bay and has offered to facilitate meetings to solicit input on a master plan for the town, he said.