HISTORY is being made at the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
As one of the most significant days in the life of the authority dawns, it is also marking the appointment as chairman for the third time of Carl Lis.
On Monday, August 1, the size of the park will increase by nearly a quarter as its boundary extends to include a small part of Lancashire and a larger part of Cumbria.
It will see Cllr Lis helping oversee a new look national park which takes under its wing a small part of north Lancashire and a larger area of Cumbria boosting its population by 4,000 to 24,000.
The changes were announced last October by Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss and it means the area covered by the national park will increase by 24 per cent from 680 sq miles -1,762 sq kms - to 841 sq miles - 2,179 sq kms. The population will grow from 20,000 to 24,000.
Cllr Lis said: “Being in a national park has many benefits, not least to the conservation of the landscape and the boost to the local economies that national park status can bring with it.
“We are all very excited about the extension but also aware of the responsibilities it brings – responsibilities to these wonderful landscapes and to the local communities that do so much to make them special places.
“We have already held drop-in sessions for members of the public and meetings with parish council representatives, landowners, farmers and local businesses to explain what we do and how we might be able to help each other.
“There is still a huge amount to do on our part but we are really looking forward to working with everyone to make the change as seamless as possible.
Members of the Kirkby Stephen and the Upper Eden community are putting the final touches to a big ‘Westmorland Dales Day’ event centred on the town on July Sunday 31 to celebrate the extension.
As well as a number of organised walks, there will be a chance for runners and cyclists to explore some of the new national park area and there will be more activities in the town.
There will be free trips on a Cumbria Classic Bus around the area for those unable to participate in sporting activities.
Ann Sandell, chairman of the Kirkby Stephen and District Walkers are Welcome, said: “We are delighted that these parts of our beautiful area have been recognised and we look forward to welcoming everyone on Westmorland Dales Day or at any time.”
The new boundary for the national park will include the Orton Fells, the northern Howgill Fells, Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang to the north and, to the west, Barbon, Middleton, Casterton and Leck Fell, the River Lune, and part of Firbank Fell and other fells to the west of the River Lune.
The Lake District National Park will be extended on the same day to take in an area from Birkbeck Fells Common to Whinfell Common to the east and an area from Helsington Barrows to Sizergh Fell, an area north of Sizergh Castle and part of the Lyth valley to the south.
Cllr Lis, an authority member for 20 years, added: "This is a very significant time in the history of the national park. We know how protective communities are and we have to handle the situation with sympathy."
He believed that the area of the Howgills, which is popular with cavers because of its high number of potholes, should always have been within the Yorkshire Dales National Park because of its landscape.
Cllr Lis, who was awarded an OBE in the 2009 New Years Honours for his services to the communities of North Yorkshire, said: “I am pleased that the members have shown their trust in me again by electing me as chairman.
“I love the national park and I love being involved in the national park authority and I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the years in terms of the landscape, our local communities and visitors."
Taking over from Peter Charlesworth, he said: "Peter Charlesworth has done an absolutely fantastic as chairman and my intention is to continue with the good work he has done."
Coun Lis - who also serves on Craven District Council - is chairman of Ingleborough Community Centre management committee, Ingleton Rural Community Association, Ingleton Scout Executive and Ingleton Football Club, and is also chairman of the Ingleton Primary School board of governors.
The park's member champion for natural environment, Ian McPherson, has been elected deputy chairman of the authority.
He is a Sedbergh parish councillor and the Secretary of State appointee (parish member) representing Sedbergh, Dent and Garsdale on the authority.
From August 1, when the boundary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is extended, he will represent all the ‘new’ parishes as well as his current three until his term of office ends in 2018.
For full details of the event to celebrate the new look authority visit http://www.kirkby-stephen.com/index.php/events-2016