WASHINGTON — Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation (NPF), the national nonprofit partner to the National Park Service, issued the following statement regarding Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s visits to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway and the Foundation’s support of infrastructure projects in America’s national parks:
“Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s visits to Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway on the 101st birthday of the National Park Service today highlight how our national parks are challenged by aging infrastructure and a significant deferred maintenance backlog. As we kick off the National Park Service’s second century, private support – donations and helping hands – will continue to play a key role in stewarding these places and ensuring a memorable and safe visitor experience.
In recent years, the National Park Foundation, in partnership with local philanthropic organizations, has helped make it possible to restore and repair park trails and historic structures, including Chimney Tops Trail at Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the historic Mabry Mill at Blue Ridge Parkway.
As part of his visit to Great Smoky Mountains today, the Secretary is helping youth corps members repair Rainbow Falls Trail. The National Park Foundation also supports the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, including the Wonderland Trail Conservation Corps and Olympic Conservation Corps, which are helping to restore two beloved trails at Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks.
As we welcome this 101st year of the National Park Service, we remain steadfast in our commitment to preserving these treasured places for current and future generations.”
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards. In 2016, commemorating the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, the Foundation launched The Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks, a comprehensive fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of these national treasures for the next hundred years. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.