The National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) launched the America's State Parks alliance in 2009 to mobilize and educate the public and policy makers on the positive impact on public health and local and state economies that state parks offer. America’s State Parks is dedicated to advocating for the state parks in the fifty states and Puerto Rico.1 Representing nearly 8,000 state parks, which are visited more than 740 million times per year,2 America's State Parks also works with policy makers in Washington, D.C. to protect these “natural, cultural and recreational treasures.”3
Stephen T. Mather, the founder of the National Park Service, stated what America's State Parks calls the “well being benefits” of parks: “Who can gainsay that the parks contain the highest potentialities of national pride, national contentment, and national health? A visit inspires love of country; begets contentment; engenders pride of possession; contains the antidote for national restlessness...He is a better citizen with a keener appreciation of the privilege of living here who has toured the nation's parks.”4
Believing that state parks are an asset in developing healthy lifestyles, America's State Parks and the National Association of State Park Directors support initiatives that connect families with the outdoors, including their own Youth Ambassadors and Friends Groups programs.5 They also host a website to connect the public with state park options, including the more than 220,000 campsites and 44,000 miles of trails.6
America's State Parks and the NASPD have also focused on conservation projects by advocating to Congress for increased funding of the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and specifically, its State Assistance Program. The LWCF State-side fund has assisted state parks in park development as well as in building community parks, trails, and ball fields.7
With increased state budget cuts across the country, many state parks have scaled back operations or are at risk of being closed. America's State Parks and the National Association of State Park Directors advocate to protect these state parks from closures partly because state parks have a total economic impact of more than $20 billion on communities.8 Park closures mean lost jobs for park rangers, biologists, lifeguards, interpreters, architects, and maintenance workers as well as diminished tourist dollars for local economies.9
- 1. Wolfe, Tom. Email message to Playground Professionals. 11 Aug. 2011.
- 2. “About America's State Parks.” America's State Parks. < http://www.americasstateparks.org/about.php > 10 Aug. 2011.
- 3. Op.cit., Wolfe.
- 4. Op.cit., “About America's State Parks.”
- 5. “Youth Ambassadors.” America's State Parks. < http://www.americasstateparks.org/ambassadors.php > and “Friends Groups.” America's State Parks. < http://www.americasstateparks.org/friends.php > 17 Aug. 2011.
- 6. Op.cit., “About America's State Parks.”
- 7. “Land and Water Conservation Fund suffers 33% cut.” The Trust for Public Land. < http://www.tpl.org/news/press-releases/2011-press-releases/conservation-funding-slashed.html > 17 Aug. 2011.
- 8. Op.cit., “About America's State Parks.”
- 9. “America's State Parks Need Your Help.” America's State Parks. < http://www.americasstateparks.org/getinvolved.php > 10 Aug. 2011.