April 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, making it the perfect time to reflect on the natural wonders of our world and to appreciate the air, land, and water that surround us. Thanks to the National Park System, more than 85 millions acres of land and water – including diverse ecosystems, majestic views, and rich histories and cultures – are protected for present and future generations.
The National Park Foundation is proud to further the mission of the National Park System by working year-round to support projects that rehabilitate historic buildings, conserve species and habitats, connect students to hands-on learning opportunities, and so much more. With the help of our community of national park champions, in 2019, we raised nearly $81 million to protect and enrich National Park Service lands and to help people of all ages build a lifelong connection to our national parks. Join us in celebrating our accomplishments from 2019.
Preserved Historic Landmarks
We joined the National Park Service in commemorating 400 years of African American history and culture by helping to preserve historical landmarks and tell the stories of the leaders in the fight for racial justice.
We supported the preservation of the birth and life homes of one of the foremost figures in the civil rights movement: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Both of Dr. King’s homes were transferred to the National Park Service and are now accessible to the public as part of Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta, Georgia. This historic site is the newest addition to a growing list of national park sites that honor African American history.
Enhanced the Visitor Experience
The National Park Foundation provided funding and support to projects that help to improve the visitor experience, so people of all ages and walks of life can safely and more comfortably enjoy time spent in national parks.
We funded a project that will increase accessibility at the highest trafficked areas of Devils Tower National Monument, including improvements to the park’s walkways, trail waysides, restrooms, plazas, and more. We’re also helping Wilson's Creek National Battlefield enhance the exhibits at their visitor center, which tell the story of the first major Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River. The park’s exhibits will soon be equipped with interactive and “virtual displays,” making it possible for people to view fragile artifacts in 3-D.
In all, projects such as these helped to construct or maintain over 70 public facilities throughout the National Park System, like visitor centers, campgrounds, restrooms, and more.
Protected Natural Resources
Thanks to NPF and partners, 1,500 acres of forest in Maine were added to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Visitors to the trail will now have access to unobstructed views of Bald Mountain and the opportunity to hike, fish, hunt, and paddle in Bald Mountain Pond and Ossie Pond.
In addition to expanding National Park Service lands, funding from NPF also helps park staff, volunteers, and partner organizations enhance and sustain the precious ecosystems within NPS boundaries. Some of the amazing accomplishments we were able to support include:
- 20,000 long-leaf pines, a native pine tree to east Texas, planted at Big Thicket National Preserve
- 13,600 seedlings planted on 20 acres of land at Flight 93 National Memorial
- 5,500 Sitka spruce planted at Lewis & Clark National Historical Park
- 138 trees and over 1,000 plants added to Pullman National Monument
- 3,100 plants and trees added, as well as 50 acres of invasive vegetation removed, at Tallgrass Prairie National Park & Preserve
Invested in the Next Generation
In 2019, NPF provided over $3.5 million to service corps programs at more than 30 national park sites across the country. These crews of young adults were deployed at national parks to accomplish critical deferred maintenance projects like habitat restoration, trail maintenance, historic building restoration, and more, all while gaining work experience and hands-on skills. In all, these service corps members helped to remove over 70 acres of vegetation and to restore 700 acres of natural habitat, including the floodplain forests of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area and the native grasses of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Conservation Legacy ran their first ever all-female conservation crews at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park in Tennessee. These women built retaining walls, cleared and installed drains, maintained trail, and came away with a renewed self-confidence. Said one participant: “my crew reminded me that we can do anything we put our minds to. We as women forget how strong we actually are and how much power we actually hold.”
Brought Learning to Life
The National Park Foundation awarded over $2 million in field trip grants, giving 204,000 students the opportunity to learn in America’s greatest outdoor classrooms: our national parks.
Local fourth graders visited Cumberland Island National Seashore where they explored the island’s many ecosystems while seeing science concepts first-hand. They then took a ferry ride along the St. Mary’s River and a ranger-led trek through a live oak forest.
Staff at New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park took students on a time travel expedition to pre-colonial Louisiana, colonial Louisiana, then to the Battle of New Orleans, the Louisiana Purchase, antebellum Louisiana, and Reconstruction while learning about historical moments that shaped the city they live in.
Introduced People to Parks
We helped connect people to the endless opportunities for fun that await in our national parks, whether it’s hiking, camping, exploring, or just gazing at the scenery and gorgeous views. NPF supports recreational activities at national parks like Boston Harbor Island National Park. On the park’s fee-free day, participants journeyed to Georges and Spectacle Islands via ferry and took part in family-friendly activities at the Long Wharf Gateway to the islands. While at the islands, they explored beaches, enjoyed a picnic, learned about the history of the islands on tours or hikes, and basked in panoramic views of Boston and the harbor.
Strengthened the Community of Park Partners
Most of National Park Service’s 419 units depend upon a nonprofit partner– known as Friends Groups or Cooperating Associations – to engage the local community, bring new audiences to the site, fundraise, recruit volunteers, and so much more.
The National Park Foundation convenes these groups throughout the year via the National Park Friends Alliance, where Friends Group staff can meet in-person to build skills, network, and learn from their peers. In 2019, the Alliance hosted two national meetings, and over 200 park partner staff from around the country connected with their peers, built their networks, and learned new skills. A new facet to these gatherings is the grouping of park partners into “affinity groups,” a thematic grouping of park partners, like the new Battlefield Affinity group, which will meet throughout the year to share ideas and develop strategies for supporting NPS Battlefield Sites.
Thank you to our partners and community of national park supporters for another year of monumental achievements. You can join us in our continued support of the National Park Service by donating today.