Six months after a two-day conference on the future of America's national parks, a drive continues to encouarge more groups with ties to the parks to endorse a statement of principles that touches on such diverse topics as economics, natural resource protection, and connecting communities to the parks.
America's Summit on National Parks in January brought together upwards of 400 people with varying connections to the parks. The conference was as much pep rally as it was think tank, with break-out sessions on how to entice more visitors to the parks, how to get youth, particularly, out into the parks, and what type of parks are missing from the system.
The statement of principles that evolved from the conference touches on these and other issues seen as important to the health, attraction, and fate of the national parks movement beyond the centennial of the National Park Service in 2016.
Together,we call on America’s leaders to unite around a Centennial Agenda that engages the American people in an active partnership to protect and revitalize our national parks, and encourages them to take advantage of the many opportunities our parks and National Park Service programs present. This Centennial Agenda should adhere to the following principles:
1. Keep America’s Promise to Our Children: We borrow national parks from our children. As we enjoy today’s opportunities to experience our national parks and heritage, we must also restore, preserve, and protect the parks’ air, water, animal and plantlife, as well as cultural and historic landscapes, so future generations can experience them as we do.
2. Protect and Cherish Our Heritage: The National Park Service should have adequate resources to serve the American people, through basic federal funding, philanthropic giving, visitor support, and innovative partnerships. National parks and our heritage should be honored, cherished and cared for, so they may exist for future generations to enjoy.
3. Promote Powerful Partnerships: Our national parks and Park Service programs depend on powerful, diverse partnerships. Partnerships help achieve conservation goals, propel visitation, engage youth, preserve cultural heritage, and foster recreation, volunteerism and public service, healthy lifestyles, sustainable jobs and economic vitality. Support from partners and volunteers will thrive as long as there is a clear commitment to sustained federal support for national parks and programs.
4. Evolve with a Changing America: The National Park System and its programs should continue to evolve and reflect the growing diversity of our nation, increasing urbanization, and conservation needs in our expanding national community. The National Park Service and its partners must also reflect this diversity in the faces they project and the creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship they summon to preserve our collective heritage.
5. Enhancing our Quality of Life: National parks and their programs help produce healthy minds and bodies.They should foster connections to communities through trails, waterways, and other means, facilitated by the National Park Service and partners. They should be used to teach us, through our visits and in America’s classrooms, about our natural and cultural heritage, and be available for present and future generations to tap as a reservoir to enhance our enjoyment, health, and quality of life.
6. Deliver Lasting Memories: Families and friends expect to enjoy memorable, outstanding visits to National Park Service sites. Educational and interpretive programs, lodging and food, trails and other recreation facilities should be exceptional, park‐appropriate and responsive to visitor needs, and natural and cultural resources should be in the best possible condition. High quality park experiences should be affordable for all and accessible both physically and virtually.
Currently, those behind the statement are just seeking support from groups, businesses, and organizations that have ties to the parks. Individual signers might be sought down the road.
So far not quite 400 organizations, groups, and businesses have signed onto the principles so far. Groups that have signed the statement include the National Parks Conservation Association, the National Park Foundation, the National Park Hospitality Association, the Alaska Geographic Association, Arizona Rivers, the Candlewick Inn, City of Moab, Friends of Virgin Islands National Park, the Garden Club of America, Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, Kampgrounds of America Inc., Teens To Trails, and the Winter Wildlands Alliance.
The goal for now is to obtain 1,000 signers by late August, when National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis is expected to release an updated Call to Action report. The initial Call to Action report, released last August, envisioned a more expansive, and inclusive, National Park System, stronger educational outreach, and a revised approach for managing today's natural and cultural resource challenges.
You can learn more about the statement of principles, and endorse them, at this site.