WASHINGTON, December 29, 2021 / PRNewswire / – As we enter the final days of the year, the National Park Foundation (NPF) reflects on how it has supported national parks throughout 2021. Thanks to a growing community of champions of the parks, including donors, foundations, corporate partners, National Park Service (NPS) staff, philanthropic organizations (often referred to as groups of friends), volunteers, visitors and more, we’ve accomplished a lot together for national parks.
We hope this summary of some of the highlights of the NPF in 2021 will inspire you to connect with and support national parks in 2022:
Protected wildlife and natural resources
NPF has helped take care of the magnificent species and ecosystems that reside in national parks.
For example, with the help of the NPF, Redwood National and State Parks is restoring land adjacent to Prairie Creek, which has been invaded by invasive species such as reed canarygrass. A multi-year project in partnership with Save the Redwoods League and the Arbor Day Foundation will plant native species along the site’s floodplains, including Sitka Spruce, Coastal Redwood, Bigleaf Maple, Branched Willow, red alder and black poplar. Restoring native vegetation will enhance tributaries that support species like salmon and rainbow trout.
At Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, NPF continued to support a project that helps rebuild populations of Rio Grande cutthroat trout in streams and lakes at the site. FNP funding will also help the park manage its elk population, monitor its amphibians and plants, and determine the health of various ecosystems.
Preserved history and culture
NPF has helped preserve and restore sites that commemorate pivotal moments in our country’s history.
For example, NPF continued to support the restoration of the homes where Dr King was born and where he and Coretta Scott King raised their families and started the civil rights movement. NPF funding helps preserve the integrity of buildings and artefacts inside as part of Martin Luther King jr. National historical park. The project helps ensure future visitors get a glimpse into the life and legacy of Dr King and Coretta Scott King. These efforts were made possible by NPF’s African American Experience Fund, which celebrated its 20e anniversary in 2021 and helps connect everyone to the role of African Americans in U.S. history through national parks.
Students Connected to the Power of Parks as Classrooms
NPF’s Open OutDoors for Kids field trip program has continued to evolve to meet the changing needs of students and teachers. In 2021, NPF provided funding to help educators adjust to the new expectations of distance learning, so that students can access parks as classrooms, whether it is an in-person, virtual tour. or hybrid.
These grants support the specific needs of each park site and its educational partners, with particular emphasis on developing students’ social and emotional learning. This year’s hybrid programs included the Cumberland Island National Seashore Virtual Nature Exploration Summer Camp and the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Reserve Salt Marsh Superhero Program, which uses videos, discussions , virtual field trips, research and student observations to teach NPS “superheroes”.
NPF’s support for NPS’s Junior Ranger Angler program inspires children to catch their first fish in nearly 200 parks that allow recreational fishing. As part of the program, Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site hosted a day camp that taught participants modern fishing techniques, as well as the traditional fishing methods of the Hidatsa people, who lived in villages. lodge in earth on this land for almost 500 years.
Invested in the next generation of park stewards
The NPF continued to provide financial support to service corps programs in national parks across the country. The service corps projects ranged from the elimination of invasive species to historic preservation to the restoration of trails. These service corps programs also provide on-the-job training to members and inspire belonging, allowing people to develop fellowship, learn new skills and learn about careers on public lands.
For example, the NPF funded a pilot program of all-female firefighters in Grand Teton and Yosemite National Parks in Wyoming and California, respectively. The teams focused on fuel management (for example, planned prescribed burns and other treatments that modify or reduce natural fuels and therefore decrease the risk of severe forest fires for local communities and help maintain healthy park ecosystems) and fire response. This pilot program helps NPS increase diversity in its forest firefighting workforce.
The NPF Latin Heritage Fund, which celebrated its 10e anniversary throughout 2021, collaborated with the NPS, Mission Heritage Partners and the Texas Conservation Corps of American YouthWorks on the Cultural Landscape Apprentice program at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. This program connects local Hispanic and Latino young adults with opportunities to learn about cultural landscape management alongside NPS employees.
Improved visitor experience
NPF has ensured that NPS is equipped to accommodate an increasing number of visitors and provide people of all skill levels with a memorable experience.
For example, NPF continued to provide support for major upgrades to the lower level of the Thomas jefferson Memorial, including the installation of accessible and state-of-the-art exhibits that incorporate both tactile and sound elements. These updates help ensure that all visitors can learn more about that of Thomas Jefferson multi-faceted story.
NPF, Friends of the Smokies, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park celebrated the completion of a new trail that allows visitors of all skill levels to access any of the Cades cove the most popular historic homes, the John Oliver Cabin. The half-mile paved trail is approximately eight feet wide to provide ample room for wheelchairs or other mobility devices to pass each other. NPF and the Friends of the Smokies funded the project.
Building strong partnerships
NPF continued to invest in philanthropic park partners, also known as Friends Groups, who raise funds, implement volunteer programs, develop connections with neighboring communities, and more. These partners consist of organizations of all sizes and include site partners that preserve battlefields, rivers and trails, and heritage areas.
For example, NPF’s Strong Parks, Strong Communities initiative helped build the capacity of 36 of these groups to serve their NPS partners. FNP provided on $ 670,000 in grants to help these groups undertake projects such as redesigning their websites, developing new education or volunteer programs, improving accessibility in their partner parks, and much more.
Learn more here on how the FPN works with partners to protect and enhance national parks for present and future generations.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation works to protect wildlife and park lands, preserve history and culture, educate and engage young people, and connect people around the world to the wonders of parks. We do this in collaboration with the National Park Service, the community of park partners, and with the generous support of donors, without whom our work would not be possible. Learn more at nationalparks.org.
SOURCE National Park Foundation