February 2010 License Plate Funding At the February 2010 Board of Directors Meeting in the park, the Board approved $35,000 for two projects for the park. These projects were funded through sales of the Big Bend License plate by Texans who value their biggest national park. Thanks to all of you who have your plates and renew them year after year! Ramada and Picnic Tables - Fossil Bone Exhibit Site The fossil bone exhibit is one of the most visible pullouts and parking areas on the road from Persimmon Gap which is the entrance is used by the majority of park visitors. It is easily accessible and available to most of the park’s visitors. The addition of a shade ramada and picnic tables will add greatly to this site’s current and future uses. The cost is $25,000. Construction on these visitor amenities will begin this year. To augment the project, the park service is paying for a vault toilet to be a part of these improved visitor facilities. Design and Planning for Future Paleontology Exhibit This gift of $10,000 is a supplement for this project, which was originally funded in September 2009. The result of this project will be a site plan and design for expanding and improving the park's existing paleontology facilities. Planning will determine what dinosaur fossils and full sized replicas will be exhibited, what size building is needed to house/protect such replicas, and what size footprint it will be. Once these needs are determined the Environmental Assessments can be completed and cost estimates obtained for fund-raising. Another outcome will be schematic drawings that will aid in future fund-raising efforts. September 2009 License Plate Funding At the September 2009 Board of Directors Meeting in the park the Board approved $30,000 for two projects for the park. These projects were once again funded through the purchase of license plates by Texans. A sincere thanks to all of our license plate holders for their help in funding projects in the park! Night Sky Lighting - Chisos Basin Developed Area This project will replace exisiting lighting in the Chisos Basinw ith more night sky friendly and energy efficient lighting, with in-kind services provided by Musco Lighting. This is part of an ongoing effort to improve night sky lighting the park - one of the darkest night sky areas in the continental U.S and a fantastic area for stargazing. To date the Friends have contributed $28,000 in license plate funds to these efforts. The park is a pilot park for improving night skies across the National Park Service, and we are proud to partner with other park supporters to make the park a leader on this issue. In February 2010 the park celebrated this program with a "turning off" of the lights. The Basin is no longer visible from Terlingua, and the lighting costs for the Basin have dropped 90%. Be sure to check out the wonderful night skies next time you stay in the Basin campground or the Chisos Mountain Lodge! If you can't make it to the park anytime soon, check out the park's podcast of the event here: http://www.nps.gov/bibe/parknews/upload/Basin%20Lighting%20Newsbrief%20Podcast.mov Design Charette - Paleontology Exhibit This pays for a professional design team to meet with park staff and subject experts to design the future Paleontology exhibit building, including a schematic plan. The entire Fossil Bone exhibit site located on 385 will be overhauled in the coming years to include solar powered restrooms, a picnic area, improved exhibits, ADA accessible trails, extended hiking trails and bus parking. This will create an entirely new facet of exploration for park visitors. June 2009 License Plate Funding At the June 2009 Board of Directors Meeting in San Antonio the Board approved $30,000 in projects for the park. These projects were funded through the purchase of license plates by Texans all over the state. A big thanks to all of our license plate holders for their help in funding projects in the park! Fossil Bone Exhibit This is a follow up gift to complete the initial funding request from February 2009. The park is update the wayside exhibits for the Fossil Bone Exhibit. The park will also be given a long term site plan for the space to take advantage of the park's paleontological resources. This is the first step in a long term project that will soon be the Friends number one fundraising priority! Picnic Area at the Fossil Bone Exhibit In addition to funding the long-term planning for the Fossil Bone Exhibit, the park will also be installing a shaded picnic area for visitors to enjoy in the interim. This exhibit is along the road from Persimmon Gap to Panther Junction, and is an area that is highly used by visitors. This new rest stop opportunity will give travelers a place to stop, take a break from driving and enjoy the peace and quiet of the park. It is also a second step in a long term renovation of this site as we anticipate a future paleontological exhibit. Multimedia Equipment This includes the purchase of an HD camcorder, associated equipment, microphone and lights required for the recording and production of top quality podcasts and multimedia web video materials. This gift, combined with the software and computer purchased with the February 2009 gift will launch the park into the online digital age. Watch our website, Facebook page and Itunes later this summer for videos from the park! Teacher Ranger Teacher For the third year time the Friends is funding the popular Teacher Ranger Teacher program. This is an official program of the National Park Service, and funds a stipend for a teacher from around the state to become a uniformed ranger at Big Bend National Park for an eight-week duration in the summer of 2010. The goal is for that teacher to then teach their schoolchildren about the park and its resources when they return to the classroom in the fall. What a great way to teach kids about the national parks in their own state!!