WASHINGTON – Today, in honor of the season of gratitude, the National Park Foundation announced its continued investment in service corps programs at national parks across the country. During fiscal year 2021, the National Park Foundation awarded over $3.4 million to service corps projects ranging from invasive species removal to historical preservation to trail restoration. These service corps programs also provide on-the-job training for members and inspire belonging, enabling people to build camaraderie, gain new skills, and learn about public lands careers.
“The service corps grantees rose to the occasion and adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing to make a positive difference for parks and people,” said National Park Foundation Vice President for Education and Engagement Dr. Tracey Ritchie. “We are deeply grateful to our grantees, the service corps members, and our National Park Foundation partners for their contributions and support, especially during a global pandemic.”
Service corps crews follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and also adhere to Leave No Trace principles, helping to ensure the health and safety of both crew members and the parks themselves.
From April 2020 to March 2021, National Park Foundation-supported service corps crews contributed nearly 60,000 hours of service at more than 50 national park sites, including the restoration of over 900 acres of natural habitat, removal of more than 40,000 pounds of trash and litter, and the planting of over 30,000 trees and plants.
This year, the National Park Foundation is partnering with the National Park Service (NPS) and 37 partner organizations* to support a diverse network of service corps crews. The National Park Foundation-supported service corps crews include:
- An affinity trail crew of color that completed major restoration work on the Tanawha Trail in North Carolina along Blue Ridge Parkway. This Conservation Corps North Carolina crew worked with National Park Service seasonal employees and staff to build a retaining wall to prevent severe erosion from cutting the trail in half. The retaining wall stabilized the trail, corrected multiple safety issues, and preserved the surrounding ecosystem.
- An all-women’s fire corps pilot program at Grand Teton and Yosemite National Parks in Wyoming and California, respectively. The crews focused on fuels management (e.g., planned prescribed burns and other treatments that change or reduce wildland fuels and therefore decrease the risk of severe wildland fire to local communities and helps maintain healthy park ecosystems) and fire response.
- An Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps crew comprised of Diné (Navajo) youth at Grand Canyon National Park. The crew contributed to the Glen Canyon Dam Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan by conducting experimental vegetation treatments to improve habitat conditions and recreation access at multiple campsites, participated in a USGS survey focused on studying the aquatic food web along the Colorado River, were introduced to citizen science and monarch butterfly conservation through the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper, and learned about career opportunities with the National Park Service.
The National Park Foundation invested more than $3.4 million in service corps programs in fiscal year 2021, including support from Communities and Workforce program partners Winnebago Industries and Winnebago Industries Foundation, and partners Nature Valley, Apple, REI Co-op, adidas TERREX, and Free People. Select projects are also being leveraged with federal funds that were authorized and appropriated for the National Park Foundation under the 2016 National Park Service Centennial Act (PL 114-289).
Learn more about the benefits service corps provide to national parks, participants, and local communities from The Future of Conservation: Engaging the Next Generation of Public Land Leaders, a virtual event and panel discussion.
“National parks provide an opportunity for everyone to experience nature,” said REI Co-op Senior Manager of Government Affairs Taldi Harrison. “We’re proud to support the shared identity crews caring for these magnificent spaces as part of the co-op’s work to build a more inclusive and sustainable outdoor community. We hope their experiences will inspire crew members to become lifetime advocates for our national parks.”
“Service corps connects new generations of outdoor enthusiasts with transformative national park experiences,” said Winnebago Industries Foundation Executive Director Katy Friesz. “Winnebago Industries and the Winnebago Industries Foundation proudly support the National Park Foundation and the service corps members who make national parks great.”
*National Park Foundation partners include American Conservation Experience, Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps, Appalachian Conservation Corps, Arizona Conservation Corps, Cabrillo National Monument Foundation, Calaveras Healthy Impact Product Solutions, California Conservation Corps, Child & Family Services of Northwestern Michigan's YouthWork Conservation Corps, Conservation Corps New Mexico, Conservation Corps North Bay, Conservation Corps North Carolina, Eastern Sierra Conservation Corps, Four Corners School of Outdoor Education, Friends of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Friends of Saguaro National Park, Friends of Virgin Islands National Park, Glacier National Park Conservancy, Groundwork USA, HistoriCorps, Mississippi Park Connection, Montana Conservation Corps, Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps, Northwest Youth Corps, River Raisin National Battlefield Park Foundation, Rock Creek Conservancy, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps-NM, Santa Monica Mountains Fund, SEEDS, Sequoia Parks Conservancy, Southern Utah University IIC, Southwest Conservation Corps, Student Conservation Association, The Great Basin Institute- Nevada Conservation Corps, University of Wyoming (Wyoming Conservation Corps), Voyageurs Conservancy, Wabanaki Youth in Science, and Watershed Committee of the Ozarks.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation works to protect wildlife and park lands, preserve history and culture, educate and engage youth, and connect people everywhere to the wonder of parks. We do it in collaboration with the National Park Service, the park partner community, and with the generous support of donors, without whom our work would not be possible. Learn more at nationalparks.org.