To create a viable and effective science program, the funding base must be dependable and not subject to discretionary reallocations. A strategic increase in funding would foster the realization of a valid science program, but it is beyond the scope of this report to specify new amounts of funding or staffing. However, significant increases would be necessary to truly fulfill the potential of science in the parks, as current funding is grossly inadequate even to meet day-today needs. A long-term program of research to inventory, monitor, and gain understanding of park resources requires great commitment. As important as more funds would be, in this era of constrained budgets an equally important first step would be to ensure the independence of the science program and establish a secure institutional commitment to it.
To provide leadership and direction, the NPS should elevate and reinvigorate the position of chief scientist, who must be a person of high stature in the scientific community and have as his or her sole responsibilities advocacy for and administration of the science program. The chief scientist would work from the Washington office and report to the Director of the NPS, provide technical direction to the science and resource management staff at the regions and in the parks, and foster interactions with other research agencies and nongovernment organizations. In addition, the chief scientist should establish a credible program of peer review for NPS science, reaching from the development of research plans through publication of results.
Given the great importance of science to the NPS mission, it is critical that the program be guided by a chief scientist who can garner respect and who has the authority to turn ideas into action. This scientist could bring a future-oriented vision to the NPS science program, serve as a coor-