Washington, D.C. — Recognizing a growing need to unite the advocates, partners and supporters of national parks in advance of the upcoming 2016 National Park Service (NPS) centennial and beyond, the most diverse group of national park leaders ever converged gathered last week in Washington, D.C. to attend America’s Summit on National Parks. The Summit was a first of its kind event established in coordination with the NPS through a partnership of the National Park Foundation (NPF), the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), and the National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA).
The two-day Summit, which took place January 24-26, was inspired by NPS’ recent Call to Action report and was designed to create unifying, clear objectives that will ensure the protection, enhancement, and support America’s iconic landmarks for centuries to come. The Summit inspired thought-provoking dialogue on some of the greatest challenges and opportunities facing national parks currently. The Summit produced a working document outlining the participants’ shared “Statement of Principles” and “Action Items” to ensure that the seeds of progress begun from the passionate and inspired conversations will take root, leading to growth, change, increased accessibility and ultimate strengthening of the national park system and national park programs. The Summit drew prominent members of Congress, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, prominent political advisors and top conservation, tourism and communication leaders.
In a joint statement regarding the Summit, Tom Kiernan, president of NPCA; Neil Mulholland, president of NPF; and Derrick Crandall, counselor of NPHA said: “Our parks need to evolve with us. The passionate leaders and advocates who attended this Summit are committed to a united vision for the national parks to thrive in the next century. We understand that appropriate funding, diverse outreach, natural resource protection and conservation, updated facilities, and adequate staff are necessary to make sure our national parks remain attractive, healthy places for people to visit and enjoy. And, though there are many challenges, we are confident that this newly unified focus, support and dedication by the park community will make these goals obtainable.”
Among the most notable directives coming out of the Summit were to increase outreach to youth and other diverse populations; to make units within the NPS system more representative of the diverse makeup of the nation; to use technology, such as social media, smart phone applications, video games and other electronic technologies to attract visitors and improve park experiences; to highlight healthy food and opportunities for safe, active fun during park visits; to increase public awareness of the 2016 centennial; to create an endowment to provide the NPS with secure funding for the future; to encourage supporters and lovers of national parks to become more engaged with their members of Congress and other decision makers, and to grow the base of support for national parks, particularly among the health, education and tourism communities.
Leading up to the 2016 centennial, the current stewards of our national parks will take up the gauntlet thrown by this Summit. Through their work, these original goals will be enhanced and the shared vision will become action.
National Parks Conservation Association Jeff Billington, 202-419-3717, firstname.lastname@example.org
National Park Foundation Marjorie Hall, 202-354-6480, email@example.com
National Parks Hospitality Association Derrick Crandall, 202-682-9530, firstname.lastname@example.org
Since 1919, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been an independent, nonpartisan organization working to address the major threats to America’s national parks and the resources they contain. As the only nonprofit, membership organization dedicated solely to preserving and enhancing national parks, NPCA and its more than 600,000 members and supporters advocate on behalf of the national parks. www.npca.org
The National Park Foundation You are the owner of 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured memorials, landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites -- all protected in America’s nearly 400 national parks. Chartered by Congress, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks. We work hand in hand with the National Park Service to connect you and all Americans to the parks, and to make sure that they are preserved for the generations who will follow. Join us in supporting your national parks -- this is your land. www.nationalparks.org.
The National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA) is the national trade association of the businesses that provide lodging, food services, gifts and souvenirs, equipment rentals, transportation and other visitor services in the National Park System. Concessioners have served park visitors since the 1870’s. NPHA members have a combined workforce of nearly 25,000 persons – mostly front-line, visitor-contact jobs – and provide in excess of $1.1 billion in goods and services to visitors annually. NPHA members operate in more than 100 park units and generate more than $100 million annually for the National Park Service budget. Guest Donation Programs operated by concessioners have provided millions of dollars for park projects and programs. www.parkpartners.org