The importance of partner organizations to National Park Service areas becomes increasingly important every year in the face of ongoing budget challenges, and Voyageurs National Park offers an excellent example of such support. The Voyageurs National Park Association (VNPA) has announced a three year Landmark Grant that totals $150,000 in assistance for a variety of needs.
The grant will be used to continue and jumpstart impact driven projects involving land preservation, research and education, youth engagement and visitor services.
Park Superintendent Mike Ward said, "The Landmark Grant will help us serve the public and protect our precious resources where our own budgets are lacking. This funding is truly a tremendous demonstration of VNPA's growth and ingenuity and I cannot tell you how much we appreciate it."
Initial funding will support extended visitor center hours and resources, historical interpretive programs, efficiency upgrades at visitor centers, the National Park Teen Ambassador program, and efforts to open the north loop of the Black Bay ski trail. Amid years of federal funding decline, sequestration and a government shutdown, this grant comes at a time when Voyageurs needs it most.
“What a great pleasure it is to be a part of an organization that’s able to step up and assist the Park at a time of real financial need,” commented Doug Franchot, VNPA Board Chair.
According to an Association spokesperson, "The Landmark Grant kicks off three years of projects in celebration of Voyageurs and ushers in the next 50 years with an exciting vision and expanded partnership." In 2015, the association will mark its 50th anniversary, along with the 40th anniversary of the park itself.
The Landmark Grant is made possible through Voyageurs National Park Association's Wallace C. Dayton Voyageurs National Park Legacy Fund which was created with generous support from the WM Foundation.
VNPA has used this fund to work with willing sellers to acquire private properties within the Park. The Legacy Fund is designed to be a renewable fund to purchase at-risk lands, which in turn will be held in our trust until federal appropriations are available to add the land to the Park and replenish the fund for future acquisitions.
A recent example of the Fund's use was the Association's purchase of a 61.55-acre property on the Kempton Channel of Rainy Lake on behalf of Voyageurs National Park. This tract encompasses boreal forest and several hundred feet of sand beach shoreline. It is located on the north side of the Kabetogama Peninsula, a 75,000 acre roadless area, which provides habitat for wolves, black bear, moose, otter and eagles.
Voyageurs National Park is a water-based national park that celebrates and preserves the treasures of the North Woods and border lakes, stretching 55 miles near the border of Minnesota and Ontario. You'll find information to help plan a visit on the park website.