Three key national park partners organizations joined to hold a first-ever strategic planning session on Nov. 1-2, which attracted more than 125 top National Park Service (NPS) leaders, conservationists, concessioners and park friends and fundraisers.
The planning session was the first of two jointly hosted meetings by the National Park Foundation, the National Parks Conservation Association and the National Park Hospitality Association. The second is the initial America’s Summit on National Parks, scheduled for Jan. 24-26, 2012, in Washington, D.C. Both meetings focus on NPS’ “A Call to Action” and planning for the 100th anniversary of the agency in 2016.
In addition to key members and staff from the groups, the strategic planning session participants included leaders from top national park friends organizations and nearly 30 NPS officials including Director Jon Jarvis, Deputy Director Mickey Fearn and other members of the agency’s National Leadership Council. The session charged the three hosting organizations with several tasks prior to the January Summit, including preparation of a statement of principles for adoption by all park supporters, planning for a campaign to help all Americans see the personal value of parks and a strategy for moving beyond conversations about the limited diversity of park visitors to actions.
America’s Summit on National Parks is an invitation-only event that will unite traditional park champions with new health, education and tourism supporters. The summit will include top national and bipartisan political figures from the Congress, from the current and past administrations, and other national leaders. A major theme will be the role of parks in the nation’s economy.
Lifetime passes to America’s national parks for senior citizens and Americans with disabilities are now available through the mail, according to a press release.
National Park Service (NPS) Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said the Senior Pass and the Access Pass will still be available at national parks, “But the option of receiving a pass by mail may better suit some people and any change that makes it more convenient to prepare to come to the parks is a change for the better. We want everyone to experience the amazing places in our care.
“National parks have a lot to offer,” continued Jarvis. “They are places to share with children, grandchildren, and other family members. They facilitate recreation and healthy living. Many parks, including Yellowstone, Shenandoah, and Denali, have trails that are accessible to people with limited mobility and to wheelchair users. We also have many accessible camping and picnic areas.”
The Senior and Access passes provide admission to, and use of, federal recreation sites that charge entrance or standard amenity fees. Pass users also receive a 50% discount on some amenity fees for activities like camping and launching a boat. They are available to citizens and permanent residents of the United States age 62 or more or who have permanent disabilities regardless of age.
The “Senior” and “Access” versions of the America the Beautiful Pass – the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass – are good for a lifetime. The Access pass is free and the Senior pass is just $10. There is a $10 processing fee to receive either pass by the mail.
The Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park is one of three California state parks that will remain open — despite being slated for closure — thanks to an agreement reached by the National Parks Service (NPS) and California State Parks on Thursday (Oct. 6), the Eureka Times-Standard reported.
The agreement will allow the 31,261-acre park, which includes the Mill Creek Campground and Mill Creek Watershed, to remain open to the public. In addition, it’ll allow the Tomales Bay State Park and Samuel P. Taylor State Park to be operated by the National Parks Service. NPS will support normal day-to-day operations needed to keep the parks open.
Candace Tinkler, chief of interpretation for NPS, said park operations will still be very dependent on the regular state park fees collected for camping and day-use services.
”We’re hoping to be able to collect fees that will pay for the staffing we need to do the (every day) maintenance work,” Tinkler said.
No additional federal funding is available to help NPS keep the state parks open, so no major long-term infrastructure repairs are planned for the parks. Tinkler said the main goal is to keep the campgrounds open for visitors.
”There may be some of the lesser-used trails we may not be able to maintain as well,” Tinkler said.
The Mill Creek Watershed will remain under the state’s control, but Tinkler said the two different park associations are used to sharing responsibilities for forested areas.
”We have this flow between the two, where we work together all the time anyway,” Tinkler said.
She said the Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park has received support from various different entities to help keep it open, and that she’s had customers pleading with parks personnel to keep the Mill Creek Campground open. While it’s a lesser-known campground, Tinkler said it’s been growing in popularity.
”It’s tucked down there in that secret valley,” Tinkler said about the campground. “It’s a short drive to come into Crescent City and visit the beach.”
Both park services have agreed to try the arrangement for one year, after which they’ll decide whether they want to continue the partnership.
The National Park Service (NPS) unveiled A Call to Action Thursday (Aug. 25) identifying four key themes and 36 actions to ready the agency for its 100th anniversary in 2016.
The plan commits the agency to connecting people to parks, strengthening local economies and encouraging organizational innovation within the NPS. The release came on Founder’s Day and the 95th anniversary of the creation of the agency.
The four key themes of A Call to Action are:
• “Connecting People to Parks”
• “Advancing the Education Mission”
• “Preserving America’s Special Places”
• “Enhancing Professional and Organizational Excellence”
NPS Director Jon Jarvis outlined the plan and a new emphasis on communications internally and with the agency’s key partners at a national town hall held in the historic Ford’s Theater in downtown Washington, D.C. The town hall was broadcast nationwide to NPS employees and partners.
To read the rest of the story, visit www.funoutdoors.com.
RVers and others already staying at campgrounds and National Park Service accommodations will be given 48 hours to move out should the federal government shut down tonight, the RV News Service reported today (April 8), citing the about.com website.
If there is a federal shutdown, not only will visits to parks themselves be curtailed, even planning for future visits will go on hold, the news service reported.
RV News Service staff interviewed a National Park Service (NPS) spokeswoman this morning and were told that parks will definitely close their gates if there is a federal shutdown. Additionally, all NPS operated websites will go dark, as website and park access are both considered “non emergency services,” which are the only services available should federal operations close up.
“The spokeswoman also said that an official media release has not yet been made available, and it’s not even clear when one will be forthcoming. Nevertheless, it is clear that if the looming shutdown becomes reality, it will put a kibosh on any plans for the annual celebration of parks, National Park Week. While many look forward to the annual celebration, which would include free access to the parks from April 16 through the 24th, a shutdown will shutout any free access,” the news service stated.
Meanwhile, just announced today, the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade and the Japanese Street Festival, scheduled to take place on Saturday in Washington, D.C., will not be canceled, the about.com website reported. The DC police have agreed to support these popular scheduled events. The parade route will be altered, affecting some of the grandstand viewing areas and ticketholders. More information to be announced. The status of the Blossom Kite Festival will still be determined in the event of a government shutdown.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today (Jan. 5) announced that the National Park Service will waive admission fees on 17 selected dates throughout 2011 and encouraged all Americans to make a New Year’s resolution to visit a national park this year.
“Many people have made resolutions to spend more quality time with loved ones and to get outdoors and unplug in 2011,” said Secretary Salazar in a news release. “There’s no better place than a national park to help keep those resolutions. Parks offer superb recreational opportunities, making them perfect places to enjoy our beautiful land, history and culture, and nurture a healthy lifestyle.”
Salazar noted that with 394 national parks throughout the country, most Americans live within a few hours of a park, making them places for easy and affordable vacations any time of the year.
“In these tough economic times, our fee-free days will give families many opportunities to enjoy our nation’s heritage and natural beauty in meaningful and affordable ways,” he said.
The 2011 fee-free dates will be the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 15-17), National Park Week (April 16-24), the first day of summer (June 21), National Public Lands Day (Sept. 24), and the weekend of Veterans Day (Nov. 11-13).
“Visitors can literally walk in Dr. King’s footsteps at national parks such as Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Georgia, Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama, or the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis. “They are just a few of the dozens of national parks which trace the history of African Americans.”
“Several parks will also honor Dr. King by hosting volunteer projects for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Jan. 17,” added Jarvis. “It is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a day on, not a day off.”
Many national park concessions will also offer discounts on fee free days, saving visitors money on food, lodging, tours, and souvenirs. More information is available at http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm.
Again this year the National Park Service will offer fee-free days, allowing visitors to check out the nation’s 391 national parks without paying an admission fee, according to a news release.
The first fee-free days are scheduled for April 17-25, National Parks Week 2010. Information on additional fee-free periods will be released later this spring.
Many park partners, including tour operators, hotels, restaurants and gift shops, plan to enhance the fee-free periods by providing discounts and special promotions to sweeten the deal. Fees for activities such as camping, tours, or concessions are not affected by the entrance fee waiver.
There are 147 parks that normally charge entrance fees ranging from $3 to $25, and 244 national parks never charge entrance fees.
For more about national parks, visit www.nps.gov.
Ten million more Americans and foreign tourists visited the nation’s national parks last year than in 2008, a 3.9% increase that marked the fifth busiest year ever for the National Park System, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today.
“People both here and abroad know that our national parks are America’s best idea, even during an economic downturn,” Salazar said. “Our national parks are treasures that tell the story of our country and celebrate its beauty and culture, and they provide vacation bargains for families living on a tight budget. They offer priceless opportunities to inspire adults and children alike with our wonderful natural, cultural and historic heritage.”
“In an increasingly sedentary society, our parks give parents a place to connect their children with nature and learn to appreciate the good feelings that come from healthy green exercise,” he said.
More than 285 million people visited national parks and other units of the National Park System during 2009, up from just under 275 million in 2008.
This fell just short of the all-time visitation record of 287.2 million in 1987.
Possible reasons for the increase in visitation include three weekends last summer when the Park Service waived entrance fees, the visits by President Obama and his family to Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, the publicity generated by Ken Burns’ documentary on the history of the national parks, a decline in gasoline prices and the continued strong exchange rate the Euro enjoys against the dollar.
Salazar highlighted the benefits national parks provide to our economy. A study released today revealed that the National Park System supports more than 223,000 jobs and nearly $14 billion in economic activity across the country.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park continued its reign as the most-visited national park in 2009, attracting 9.4 million visitors, while the Blue Ridge Parkway was the most visited unit of the system with nearly 16 million visitors.
The top 10 most visited national parks were:
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 9,491,437 visitors
- Grand Canyon National Park, 4,348,068
- Yosemite National Park, 3,737,472
- Yellowstone National Park, 3,295,187
- Olympic National Park, 3,276,459
- Rocky Mountain National Park, 2,822,325
- Zion National Park, 2,735,402
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 2,589,288
- Grand Teton National Park, 2,580,081
- Acadia National Park, 2,227,698
America’s First Family is headed to two national parks this weekend. And while they will bring along a small army of security and communications staffers, they will enjoy experiences remarkably similar to those enjoyed by millions of other American families who will visit one of the nearly 400 national park units this year.
The Obama family plans to visit both Yellowstone National Park – the nation’s first park – and Grand Canyon National Park to do some hiking, biking and gazing at natural vistas and wildlife. Their visit will coincide with the summer’s third and final ”Fee-Free Weekend.” All 391 national parks will offer free admission this weekend, and many park concessionaires — including tour operators, hotels, restaurants and gift shops — will provide discounts and special promotions for visitors to further enjoy the parks.
The fee-free weekends have attracted more of America’s 30 million RVers to national parks this summer. Surveys of RV owners conducted by the Recreation vehicle Industry Associaton (RVIA) show that national parks continue to be a popular destination for RVers, with more than 63% reporting in RVIA’s spring “Campfire Canvass” survey that that visiting national parks is a favorite activity.
“RVers love visiting the outdoors and experiencing the wealth of recreational opportunities the national parks offer,” said RVIA President Richard Coon. “The National Park Service’s fee-free weekends have come at a terrific time. RVing is already the most cost-effective way for families to vacation, and this initiative has allowed thousands of America’s budget-conscious families to enjoy inexpensive vacations in some of America’s most beautiful places.”
American Recreation Coalition (ARC) President Derrick Crandall added, “This year, Americans are rediscovering the wonder of our parks. Attendance is up at national parks – and also at many state and local parks. Time spent with family and friends in the Great Outdoors produces healthy bodies and healthy relationships.”
In a speech this spring celebrating the 160th Anniversary of the Department of the Interior, President Obama also emphasized the importance of the great outdoors to America’s children.
The President said of the experience of visiting America’s natural treasures, “these are experiences that enrich our lives and remind us of the blessings that we share. That was certainly the case for me.”
Obama told the crowd of his grandmother’s decision, just before the president’s 11th birthday, to take him to these iconic parks: “We drove down the coast of California and then east to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. … It was an experience I will never forget. It is an experience I want for my daughters and for all our daughters and sons.”
For information on the fee-free weekends initiative of the National Park Service, see: Find A Park. For overall information on outdoor recreation on all federally-managed lands, go to: www.recreation.gov.
The National Park Service has announced that admission to the nation’s 391 national parks is free this weekend, July 18-19. This weekend is the second of three free admission summer weekends, with the third scheduled for Aug. 15-16.
Many park partners, including tour operators, hotels, restaurants and gift shops, will provide discounts and special promotions to sweeten the deal, according to a news release. Fees for activities such as camping, reservations, tours or concessions are not affected by the entrance fee waiver.
“During these tough economic times, our national parks provide opportunities for affordable vacations for families,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “I encourage everyone to take advantage of these free-admittance weekends.”
Dan Wenk, acting director of the National Park Service, said, “Most Americans live within a few hours’ drive of a national park, and free entrance weekends offer the perfect chance to visit an old favorite or to discover and explore a new place.”
There are 147 parks that normally charge entrance fees ranging from $3 to $25, while 244 national parks never charge entrance fees.
More information is available at http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm.