December 8, 2015

Looking ahead to the Park Service's
Centennial celebration...WITH AUDIO

David Hallac, superintendent of the National Park Service's Outer Banks Group, was the guest again on Dec. 20 on "To the Point," the Radio Hatteras interview show hosted by Island Free Press editor Irene Nolan.

This interview is the second part of Hallac's report to the people on his first year as superintendent, and in this interview, he talks about the challenges of managing the three park units that comprise the group, including visitation, activities, cultural and natural resources, physical facilities, and employees.

In this interview, he is joined by Lynne Belanich, who is the Bodie Island district ranger and also the Centennial coordinator for the Outer Banks Group of parks.

Belanich coordinates the work of Park Service staff members from many different disciplines -- law enforcement, natural resources, maintenance, and interpretation -- as they plan for the 100th anniversary celebration of the founding of the National Park Service on Aug. 25, 2016.

Hallac notes that the Outer Banks Group is comprised of three parks of "firsts."

There's the Wright Brothers National Memorial, where the first powered flight took place. There's the Lost Colony National Historic Site, where the first English colony in North American was established.  And, finally, there's the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the nation's first national seashore.

He talks about the challenges of managing the three parks that cover many fewer acres yet have visitation that rivals some of the big iconic western  parks, including Yellowstone, where Hallac managed natural resources before he came to the Outer Banks.

The Outer Banks Group has about 2.8 million visits to its three parks that cover 30,000 acres. Yellowstone, he said, hosts about 3 million to 3.5 million visits to the park, which covers about 2.2 million acres.

All three parks will be involved in next year's Centennial celebration, Belanich says.

The overall Centennial goal," Belanich says, "is to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates."

To reach that goal, she notes, the director of the National Park Service, Jonathan Jarvis, has issued a "call to action" for the Centennial year. The call to action points are broken into four categories --- connecting people to parks, advancing the NPS education mission, preserving America's special places, and enhancing professional and organizational excellence.

There are 39 "calls to action" listed and each park can pick and choose which ones its will pursue with its communities during 2016 and beyond.

The plans for the Outer Banks Group involve such things as a naturalization ceremony for new U.S. citizens at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, an International Dark Sky designation for the seashore, and also a water trails project that will help visitors explore the soundside of the seashore.

Belanich directs folks who want to know more about the Centennial or to volunteer to plan and/or be part of it, to check out the website,

She says the "call to action" document spells out each of the 39 "calls" and that the site, in general, "has some great resources on how the community can get involved."

Belanich also recommends the website,, which is focused on the next generation and specifically offers fourth graders free visits to national parks. On this site, youngsters can plan a trip to a park and then print a free pass.  There's also information for parents and educators on using the site.

Finally, she directs us to, a website where people can find their own "special" park and share the story of why it's so special to them. There's also information on this site about Centennial events and planning your visit to a park.

If you have questions about the Centennial or want to volunteer to work on any of its events or activities, you can send an e-mail to the park by going to the website,  Click on the "contact us" icon on the left hand side of the page.

"To the Point" airs on the island's community radio station, FM 101.5, at 5 p.m. on the first and third Sunday of each month.  It is repeated on the second and fourth Sunday. Those who don't live on Hatteras can listen to the show on Sundays through live streaming at

Scroll down and click on the appropriate "To the Point" logo to listen to the audio of the interview.


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