23 Jun introducing: the Denver service center – Jade Bravo
Unlike most of my fellow interns, I am not at a specific National Park this summer. While I’m working from home, that does not mean that I am missing out on exploring the amazing and diverse selection of parks. The Denver Service Center’s (DSC) Planning Division, Natural Resources Branch offers the unique opportunity to work with parks all across the country as it acts as the central planning, design, and construction project management office for the NPS. As a result of providing so many services to parks, or rather in order to provide so many crucial services, each team of project specialists and project managers is created with individuals with a variety of backgrounds, skills, specialties and across the different DSC Planning branches. These interdisciplinary teams, known as IDTs, also work with park and regional staff in order to build park specific management plans that properly address the natural resource and cultural resource concerns that are unique to each park. For example, a Resource Stewardship Strategy (RSS) Plan for Mammoth Cave National Park, while using the same framework, will look vastly different from Indiana Dunes National Park. This is just one of the few types of management plans that the Planning Division’s Natural Resources Branch facilitates and help to create. Park engagement is critical, and it has been such an insightful experience getting to listen- in on the honest and collaborative discussions between the park staff and the DSC. While almost all of our meetings and work is still being done online, park and DSC staff have adapted well to the new virtual environment with minor technological hiccups (but they are unpleasant!).
Among the many impactful projects that DSC staff work on throughout the year, I was surprised to learn about the internal inclusion and diversity discussions that had been occurring since last year and sparked by the Black Lives Matter Protests. While I have only participated in a few meetings, it is clear that staff members are putting in effort to understand and sit with very difficult and controversial topics regarding race, priviledge, inclusion and more. These types of conversations are not only important to have to grow as people but also in order to develop more inclusive park management plans that seek to create more equitable opportunities for disadvantaged families and individuals. Through the Allies for Inclusion and JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) meetings, I’m optimistic that these discussion will turn into much needed action.