Consider Making A Charitable Donation To The National Park Friends Group Of Your Choice

Monday is the last day to make a charitable, and deductible, donation to the national park friends group of your choice for the 2012 tax year -- and maybe forever, depending on how Congress resolves the nation's budgetary problems.

So if you can afford to do so, cut a check or make an on-line donation to your favorite park's friends group...and then perhaps to another friends group that you normally wouldn't think of donating to.

For instance, how many have donated to the Voyageurs National Park Association, or to the Sequoia Natural History Association, the fledgling Friends of Arches and Canyonlands Parks: The Bates Wilson Legacy Fund, the Grand Canyon Trust, Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, C&O Canal Trust, Mesa Verde Museum Association, South Florida National Parks Trust, or the Boston Harbor Island Alliance?

There are more than 100 friends groups, associations, foundations, and trusts across the country that work in support of specific units of the National Park System. These groups help fill some of the gaps in federal spending. They help provide interpretation in the parks, repair trails, underwrite research, and in some cases even help build visitor centers.

They've always been important and valuable partners for the parks, and could become even more so depending on Washington's handling of the budgetary mess. By donating directly to a friends group, such as Friends of Acadia, the Yellowstone Park Foundation, Grand Teton National Park Foundation, Friends of Big Bend, the Glacier National Park Fund, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, Friends of the Smokies, or the Shenandoah National Park Trust, you can be sure your dollars will go directly to projects in those parks.

For instance, did you know that Friends of Acadia helps support the maintenance of more than 100 miles of hiking trails in Acadia National Park, that the Shenandoah National Park Trust works to bring teachers into Shenandoah National Park to work side-by-side with rangers and then return to their classrooms with the knowledge they've gleaned, or that the Grand Teton National Park Foundation has programs to nurture the next generation of park stewards?

The list of worthy programs and projects goes on and on, as you can no doubt imagine, and your dollars can make a meaningful impact. Consider a donation.