A Monumental Year in 2016
The National Park Foundation and our national parks had a monumental year in 2016! Our grants, totaling over $100 million, helped protect these special places and connect new audiences to them, creating opportunities to inspire the next generation of national park supporters – all as we joined in celebrating the centennial of the National Park Service.
Here are some memorable highlights of the great work we accomplished thanks to the incredible national parks community.
We welcomed four new sites into the National Park System in 2016, including Stonewall National Monument. The monument is the first national park dedicated to preserving LGBTQ history and is recognized as the birthplace of the modern lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer civil rights movement following the 1969 riots. Protecting this important place recognizes the long struggle for LGBTQ equal rights that continues today and helps tell the diverse stories that make up the American narrative.
The Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument was also added to the park system to protect the epicenter of the fight for women’s rights. The Belmont-Paul house served as the headquarters for the National Woman’s Party. From here, Alice Paul advocated for the Equal Rights Amendment and lead the nation’s women’s suffrage movement.
Thanks to the generous donation of David M. Rubenstein, the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument received much needed support for renovations including proper protection and care for the National Woman’s Party (NWP) collection stored in the house and repairs to the building’s HVAC system, chimney, roof, gutters and windows. Mr. Rubenstein’s generous support also allowed for significant restoration work at Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial, U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial in 2016.
Transportation is one of the biggest barriers to connecting kids to our national parks. To overcome this barrier, the Every Kid in a Park (EKIP) initiative strives to get every 4th grader from across the country into public lands throughout the school year. Our support of this transformative initiative provides transportation funding to bring 4th graders to parks, with a special focus on underserved and urban communities. With cutbacks in school funding for field trips, this strategic support provides access to natural, cultural, and historical parks.
As an expansion of the initiative this year, in addition to 129 grants, funding also supported 9 focus cities: Baltimore, Maryland, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Miami, Florida, Ohio, St. Louis, Missouri, Houston, TX, Los Angeles, California, Seattle, Washington, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The focus cities allow us to capitalize on strong partnerships and capacity to engage new audiences and foster the educational landscape of their communities. The exciting experiences provided by EKIP Focus Cities engaged kids in learning that is inclusive, relevant, fun and active.
We also supported 21st Century Conservation Service Corps at several parks in 2016. Programs like the corps give youth the opportunity to help with conservation and restoration efforts at parks while gaining valuable training and work experience, including learning specialized skills, and inspire them to be stewards of our national parks. This program was possible thanks to the support of many donors including Mike and Sue Raney and the REI Foundation.
Crews at Olympic National Park, performed trail maintenance activities on the Enchanted Valley Trail as well as several other trails in partnership with the Washington Conservation Corps. This work done by crews is vital to the park whose trails are damaged by winter storms every year. The crews worked on trail surface and structure repairs, as well as brush clearing, on approximately 85 miles of park trails.
At Rocky Mountain National Park, the youth conservation corps are working to rehabilitate the Bierstadt Lake Trail to improve visitor safety and satisfaction. The two-year project will improve outdated trail infrastructure, mitigate resource damage, and construct retaining walls, tread maintenance, and rehabilitation of social trails.
We are so proud of everything we accomplished in 2016 and are so excited for all the great things to come in 2017, including celebrating NPF’s semicentennial! Help us support amazing programs like these in our national parks.