A New Foundation Arises to Aid Lake Superior Parks
As times grow increasingly tougher, financially, for the National Park Service, individual parks can find a bit of a lifeline in non-profit friends groups.
The latest non-profit to surface is the National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation, which sprang to life to aid Isle Royale National Park, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Grand Portage National Monument.
Pictured Rocks Superintendent Jim Northrup says such foundations are becoming more and more invaluable to parks because of the fiscal constraints that are, sadly, an everyday reality across the national park system.
“Virtually every park in the nation has entered into agreements with non-profit partners to assist them in raising funds to provide that margin of excellence, and that is what the National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation is all about,” says Superintendent Northrup.
Unfortunately, I'm not really sure the non-profits are actually providing that "margin of excellence." Rather, it seems like they're being relied upon more and more to fund the nuts-and-bolts projects that Congress should be funding. For instance, in the case of the Lake Superior foundation monies raised are going to help restore historic buildings and improve visitor facilities, among other things.
What would constitute a "margin of excellence" project? That's a good question. In Yellowstone, I understand funding from the Yellowstone Park Foundation helped underwrite research into the park's cutthroat trout populations. I suppose I'd view funding to help a park purchase memorabilia for its museum collections as another valuable contribution.
But shouldn't building maintenance and visitor facilities be the responsibility of Congress?
That's a debate that will continue for the immediate future. In the meantime, it's good to see the Lake Superior foundation coming to the aid of its parks.