Organizers Of Summit On National Parks Looking For More Groups To Endorse Statement Of Principles

Efforts are ongoing to get more groups, businesses, and organizations across America to endorse a Statement of Principles to help guide the National Park Service into its second 100 years.

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.

JOINT PRINCIPLES

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.

Comments

Sounds like a lot of empty promises. Seems to me that kids don't really care for hiking in our NPS cathedrals, and those 1000 signers are not going to solve the underlying generational gap.

I dunno, Zeb, lot of SCAers out there, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and other youth-oriented clubs out there.

For what it's worth, a dozen years ago I took my oldest son, then 16, on a llama-packing trip into the Wind River Range. We were there I think for three nights, four days. Anyway, on the ride home, he said it was fun, but wasn't ready to plan another trip.

About a year later he was reminiscing about what a great time it was. Now we're lined up for a four-day white-water river trip, and he's talking about wanting to see Alaska. You never really know how kids might react down the road to an outdoors experience.

Sometimes the immediate feedback needs to be tossed aside. Parents/mentors need to keep exposing them to what's out there.

I'm inclined to go with Kurt on this one. In the two dozen or so national parks I've been able to backpack through in the last two years, teenagers comprise the kind of "group" I most frequently encounter in the backcountry--Boy Scouts, church groups, etc. Last month I was in Olmpic NP's "Enchanted Valley" and there was a group of 7 or 8 teenagers (a few barely teenagers) out there without an adult. It was great to see. This is anecdotal, but my guess is that for this generation, there is not less interest in hiking per se, but less interest in the outdoors in general.

Want to Read Somthing Unfair, Unjust and Downright Ridiculous? Cape Hatteras National Seashore and RECREATION Area is Being Destroyed By a Special Interest Groups Prtecting a Few Sets of Non-Endangered Nesting Birds that are Not Even Indigenous To NC. http://www.islandfreepress.org...

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/07/19/2263383/letters-to-editor-july-19.html#storylink=cpy#storylink=cpy

I have to agree with Zebulon (as usual).

Here's what one Anonymous writer wrote on these pages a few days ago:

"I disagree that all you need is to take the kids outdoors and and they start liking it. I have taken dozens of children out in beautiful places. Children who are not exposed to nature in a somewhat regular basis will not just transform within moments being outside. I hear a lot of whining, 'when are [we] done,' 'I [would] like to go home now,' 'there are too many bugs,' 'this is boring,' 'I hate hiking,' 'this is so boring, I don't want to be here.' I could just go on and on.

"The majority of children I know spend a wast[ed] amount of time on [the] computer and TV. They are literally parked in front of it."

Source: http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2007/10/kids-detached-nature-heres-one-example

My own nephew loves the National Parks, loves hiking, loves Wilderness, etc. He, his father, and an elderly Sierra Club stalwart regularly go off to National Parks in the west. Good for him! I suspect, however, that he's in a small minority.

Perhaps of interest, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had a two-hour call-in discussion on its Cross-Country Checkup program last Sunday that touched on these issues. The first guest, the vigorous-sounding 82-year-old painter and naturalist Robert Bateman, talked about taking his kids on hikes near their home at Salt Spring Island, B.C., and how he loves to hike. He said hiking is one solution for youth out of touch with nature. He says: "An easy thing [to do] . . . is that every . . . adult . . . promise to take that kid . . . for a hike for two hours once a week . . . and schedule it every weekend." I strongly suspect that such an idea is bound to fail to achieve anything meaningful. You can find the podcast here (look for July 22 in the lower right corner): http://www.cbc.ca/checkup/episode/

Thanks, Anon. The article is indeed "somthing Unfair, Unjust and Downright Ridiculous."