America’s Summit on National Parks, which was held in Washington, D.C. last week, was a first of its kind. Several partners, advocates and supporters of national parks attended the Summit, recognizing the growing need to unite.
The Summit was established in coordination with NPS (National Park Service) and was through a partnership of the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the National Park Foundation (NPF), and the National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA).
According to a press release, this two-day summit took place on January 24-26. The event was inspired by the recent call to action report of NPS. The Summit was designed to “create unifying, clear objectives that will ensure the protection, enhancement, and support America’s iconic landmarks for centuries to come.” A working document was produced to outline the shared statement of the participants ensuring “that the seeds of progress begun from the conversations will take root.”
Tom Kiernan, the president of NPCA; Neil Mulholland, NPF’s president, and NPHA’s counselor Derrick Crandall in their joint statement said, “Our parks need to evolve with us. The passionate leaders and advocates who attended this Summit are committed to a united vision for the national parks to thrive in the next century. We understand that appropriate funding, diverse outreach, natural resource protection and conservation, updated facilities, and adequate staff are necessary to make sure our national parks remain attractive, healthy places for people to visit and enjoy. And, though there are many challenges, we are confident that this newly unified focus, support and dedication by the park community will make these goals obtainable.”
The notable directives of the Summit include:
- Outreach to the country’s youth and other diverse populations needs to be increased.
- Highlighting healthy food and opportunities for a safer and active fun during park visits.
- Making units within the NPS system to involve more representatives from the diverse makeup of the country.
- Increase public awareness for the 2016 centennial.
- Encourage supporters of national parks to engage with the Congress members and other decision makers to grow the base of support for protecting national parks, particularly among the education, health, and tourism communities.
- Using technology to attract visitors as well as to improve park experiences.
- Creating an endowment for providing secure funding to the NPS for the future.