Update on Concessioner Operations in National Parks
Last week, key NPHA member representatives gathered on a ZOOM session led by NPHA Chair Scott Socha and focusing on (1) efforts to gain relief for the economic challenges concessioners face in 2020 from COVIC-19 and (2) Monday’s Federal Register and the publication of eleven changes to current regulations governing the NPS concessions program. Read more.
Interior announces plans to improve visitor services through concessioners via important regulatory reform
The U.S. Department of the Interior announced plans July 16 to improve visitor experiences in national parks through improved and responsive services provided by concessioners. Read more.
Key Information on Trends Shaping National Park Visitation – June 22, 2020
New this week:
U.S. Travel Association Weekly Travel Spending
Executive Order Limiting Temporary Work Visas
Industry Guidance for Promoting the Health and Safety of All Travelers
President Declares June 2020 Great Outdoors Month, Invites All Americans to Visit Parks and Other Outdoors Places
Continuing a bipartisan tradition established by President George W. Bush, President Donald Trump proclaimed June 2020 as Great Outdoors Month. He highlighted the wonderful legacy of our public lands and waters and urged all Americans to enjoy these special places responsibly, continuing a long tradition of caring for the Great Outdoors. Read the full proclamation.
COVID-19 Brings Great Harm to Park Concessioners, Concessions Employees and Park Visitors
To view infographic as a PDF, click pictures
NPHA Sends Letter to President Trump Regarding COVID-19 Impacts on Concessioners
National park concessioners are facing severe economic trauma from the coronavirus. Most of our operations are already shut down, and the likelihood of closure is high for many of the remaining operations, many of which are seasonal and being readied for opening. We believe the closures will cause a dramatic drop in visits and that visitor spending at our locations will decline by 75% or more this year. In fact, some of our operations will likely see a total loss of revenues.
In addition to overall assistance outlined by the US Travel Association, NPHA is requesting specific actions to allow our members to survive and play an important role in the economic recovery post-pandemic.
Read the letter to the President here. Read the letter to Congress here.
2020 ANNUAL MEETING:
Understanding Park Visitors of the 2020s
In-person meeting cancelled
Understanding Park Visitors of the 2020s was scheduled for March 16 and 17, 2020, to facilitate discussions among national park concessioners, the NPS, Congress and others regarding new and better ways to enhance the experiences of national park visitors while balancing visitation to national park units across the country. Sessions were to include conversations with Interior Department and NPS officials; discussions with key Congressional staff and other special guests, including leaders of NPCA, the National Park Foundation and more; and discussions of association goals and priorities. The meeting was scheduled at the Intercontinental Washington at the Wharf, 801 Wharf St. SW Washington, D.C. 20024, 1-202-800-0844. Uncertainties about travel and assembly of nearly 100 persons during a time of concern about community transmittal of the Coronavirus caused the NPHA Board of Directors to cancel the meeting, shifting key discussions to a series of videocalls and the NPHA fall meeting.
For more information on the meeting, including access to materials, click here.
Key Park Partners Applaud Interior Steps to Restore Key Functions During Shutdown
The National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA) expressed strong support for the decision made today by the U.S. Department of the Interior to allow use of funds collected from park visitors under the authority of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act to protect our parks and park visitors during the lapse in park appropriations.
“NPHA has actively supported visitor fee retention by federal recreation providers and use of collected funds for visitor-related purposes,” said NPHA Chairman Scott Socha. “That position is clearly reflected in 16 U.S. Code Chapter 87 - Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement (FLREA).”
“NPHA also strongly supports learning from experiences arising from federal shutdowns where parks and park visitors are unintended victims of the inability of the White House and the Congress to reach agreement on appropriated funding,” Socha added. “The October 2013 shutdown was painful to millions of Americans who were denied entry to parks. That shutdown cost concessioners, thousands of their employees and gateway communities millions of dollars. Congress eventually paid furloughed federal workers but not those partners to parks that also suffered. We welcomed the commitment of this Administration to avoid a repeat of the blanket closures of 2013 and its receptivity to more than 50 agreements involving states, local communities, concessioners and others to maintain access to parks and underwrite key services like law enforcement, trash, restrooms and more.”
NPHA noted that there are great success stories about partnerships allowing continuing public access across the nation – at the Statue of Liberty and Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon and Alcatraz. But some park units were unable to forge and sustain these partnerships and now face a needless choice between closure or allowing resource damage and social conflict. Interior’s action provides a new valuable and logical tool, opening up limited access to more than $400 million in non-appropriated funds paid by park visitors to underwrite visitor services but not yet obligated.
Information on concessioner contributions to meeting shutdown needs, as well as support of parks through capital investments, support of guest contributions and highlighting lesser known park units and non-peak seasons is available through NPHA.
Recreation and Conservation Leaders Host Congressional Briefing on Disaster Recovery Needs
Disaster recovery on America’s public lands and waters was the focus of a joint briefing on Capitol Hill December 5. Officials from recreation and conservation organizations, including The Corps Network, National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA), and National Parks Conservation Association briefed Congressional staffers and public and private partners on natural resource recovery needs in national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges and other public lands systems in the wake of a devastating year of hurricanes, drought, wildfires and other natural disasters. We were delighted that key Administration officials including Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Doug Domenech attended and joined in the conversations about restoring communities and recreation services, not just the lands.
Caroline Brouwer – Director of Government Affairs, National Wildlife Refuge Association
Derrick Crandall – Counselor, National Park Hospitality Association
Sarah Gaines Barmeyer – Senior Managing Director of Conservation Programs, National Parks Conservation Association
John Garder – Senior Director of Budget and Appropriations, National Parks Conservation Association
Rachel Lettre – Eastern Program Director, Student Conservation Association
Rebecca Turner – Senior Director of Programs and Policy, American Forests
Tyler Wilson – Director of Government Relations, The Corps Network
Recreation infrastructure – campgrounds, lodges, trails, beaches, marinas and more – is often overlooked in the planning for recovery from disaster, severely impacting local economies. Everglades, Glacier and Virgin Islands National Parks, as well as Sierra National Forest, are just a few of the places impacted by natural disasters in 2017. The widespread damage has caused significant negative consequences for visitors, agencies, concessioners, surrounding communities and more. To read NPHA’s full briefing packet, click here.
To read letters from the outdoor recreation community to the Congress and the Administration requesting the inclusion of America’s public lands and waters in disaster relief funding, click here and here.
Park Concessioners Applaud Passage of National Park Service Centennial Bill
The National Park Hospitality Association applauds the bipartisan effort by the U.S. Congress to help the Naitonal Park Service meet the challenges of its second century of stewardship with the passage of the National Park Service Centennial Act. The legislation provides the agency with new resources that will help it engage the country’s growing and diverse population with their public lands and waters, embrace new technologies and address a $12 billion maintenance backlog. Among the key provisions of the legislation are:
1) the National Park Centennial Challenge Fund, first proposed when Dirk Kempthorne was Secretary of the Interior in 2007.
2) a National Park Foundation-managed Endowment to supplement Congressional appropriations – much as endowments are used by universities. There is evidence that this endowment could be attractive to bequests and major contributors.
3) improved capabilities to use youth conservation corps and volunteers to aid national park operations.
4) an amendment to the 1998 Concessions Act to allow Interior’s Secretary to “amend the applicable terms of an existing concessions contract to provide new and additional services.”
5) a new Visitor Experience Improvements Authority, which could expand visitor services at units now under-visited.
Concessioners expressed appreciation that Congress eliminated proposed new taxes on in-park concessioner-provided lodging (including campground stays) and other goods and services that would not have been used to support park operations in the units generating the funds, undercutting provisions of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) and current concessions law.
The legislation also increases the price of a lifetime Senior Pass for people 62 and older from $10 to $80. Seniors who don’t wish to purchase a lifetime pass can purchase an annual one for $20.
Concessioners Help Visitors Contribute to National Parks
National park visitors are making important gifts to many of America’s most iconic destinations through the National Park Service’s Guest Donation program! Donations of just one dollar per stay at America’s national park lodges and other overnight facilities generated more than $1 million in 2015, and are nearing $1 million in 2016, according to park concessioners and the National Park Foundation. The funds are available for use within the collecting park by qualifying non-profit groups for projects like restoration, trail maintenance, expanded visitor services and more.
To read the full story, including a table of guest donations, click here.
FACT SHEET: On Every Kid In a Park Day of Action, White House Announces Commitments to Getting Nearly Half a Million Kids Outside
Today, the White House is announcing that more than two dozen foundations, companies and nonprofit organizations have signed on to the President’s Every Kid in a Park initiative, committing to funding trips to America’s national parks and other public lands and waters for nearly half a million 4th grade children. This announcement is just one of many events happening across the country to celebrate National Park Week and the centennial year of the National Park Service.
Launched in September 2015, the Every Kid in a Park initiative provides all 4th graders and their families with free access to our country’s public lands and waters for a full year. Since the launch of the initiative, private companies, nonprofits and other youth-serving groups have responded to the President’s call to action to get all children to visit and enjoy America’s unparalleled outdoors, taking action to ensure that all children can have this opportunity. In addition to demonstrating the breadth of support for Every Kid in a Park, today’s commitments include several new steps to expand the initiative, including the launch of a public awareness campaign and website, EveryKidinaPark.org, a commitment from outdoor retailer REI to fund trips for all 4th graders in Washington D.C. public schools, and a 75 percent Amtrak discount for 4th graders with an Every Kid in a Park pass when purchased with a full fare adult ticket.
Additionally, as part of National Park Week this week and today’s Every Kid in a Park Day of Action, organizations and individuals across the country are continuing to raise awareness for the initiative. Highlights of the announcements and commitments supporting the President’s initiative include:
Transportation costs will be paid for nearly half a million 4th graders across the country to attend Every Kid in a Park trips through a combination of philanthropic support and existing federal funding;
Six states – Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho, Indiana, New Mexico and New York – have committed to honoring the federal Every Kid in a Park pass in their state parks;
Print and digital distribution of Every Kid in a Park resources has reached virtually every 4th grade class in the United States;
More than 1,000 events and field trips have already been held to support the Every Kid in a Park initiative.
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Every Kid in a Park Statement of Support
We support President Obama's Every Kid in a Park Initiative which provides every fourth grader and their family a free one-year pass to any of our nation's public lands and waters. The Every Kid in a Park initiative delivers a nationwide call to action to connect all Americans with our nation's great natural beauty and rich history. As we celebrate the National Park Service's centennial year and look towards the next century of conservation, we are committed to ensuring that all youth, especially those in underserved communities, have the opportunity to experience America's great outdoors.
By signing the Every Kid in a Park statement of support, these companies and organizations are demonstrating support for the President's Every Kid in a Park initiative and taking action to connect all youth to America's great outdoors.
The following organizations have signed on to the above Every Kid in a Park Statement of Support and are committing to help the President’s Every Kid in a Park initiative.
American Recreation Coalition
Through collaboration with public, corporate and nonprofit partners during Great Outdoors Month®, the American Recreation Coalition is committed to introducing thousands of 4th graders and their families to their public lands and waters at special events all across the country. The coalition is working closely with Governors to host campouts – including the first-ever Great Outdoors Western Governors Campout in Wyoming – issue proclamations, produce public service announcements and more to help their residents get outdoors.
Amtrak is a proud transportation partner of the Every Kid in a Park initiative. As Every Kid in a Park connects young people to the outdoors, America’s Railroad® connects people, the economy and the nation. Amtrak hopes to increase opportunities for Americans to get outdoors and connect with one of our nation’s true treasures, the national park system. In partnership with the Department of the Interior, Amtrak will offer a special Every Kid in a Park discount: buy one adult, get one child 75% off for travel to National Parks, urban parks, federal lands and waters this summer. Amtrak has service to over 260 parks and more than 2,000 federally managed lands and waters nationwide.
The California Outdoor Engagement Coalition at UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources
To support Every Kid in a Park in Richmond, CA we are partnering with the National Park Service, Rosie the Riveter Trust, West Contra Costa Unified School District and Groundwork Richmond to bring 1,200 4th graders from Richmond and San Pablo to Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park this spring. We plan to partner with other cities and districts to create wholesale efforts in California to bring all 4th graders in that area to their parks and provide them with Every Kid in a Park passes.
Children & Nature Network
Children & Nature Network (C&NN) will promote Every Kid in a Park across a range of communication channels and events, and engage their grassroots networks and local supporters. Specifically, C&NN will promote the initiative through a national newsletter, online forums and toolkits, activation webinars, and at an international conference. Every Kid in a Park will also be featured as part of the book launch of Vitamin N, by Richard Louv, which contains a section describing the initiative.
Today, in coordination with the Department of the Interior, Civic Nation is launching a public awareness and engagement campaign to inspire the next generation of cultural and environmental stewards by instilling curiosity about nature’s wonders, fostering appreciation for diverse cultural heritage, and furthering understanding of historic events. The Every Kid in a Park Campaign will engage educators, parents, and others to help get Every Kid in a Park and join the movement to make exploring these places a rite of passage for generations to come. In addition, Everykidinapark.org will serve as an online hub to find resources and tools from partners to improve access to America’s treasured outdoor spaces and historic sites.
Family Travel Association
The Family Travel Association is a coalition of the travel industry's leading suppliers, destinations, resources and experts on the subject of traveling with children. As a member-based organization with fast-expanding reach in both trade and the media, we will endeavor to share news about Every Kid in a Park with members through any of a number of open channels, which include familytravel.org, newsletters, social media channels, Spotlight editorial campaign, general editorial, promotions and annual Summit.
Girl Scouts of the USA
Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) participates in the Girl Scout Ranger program at National Parks and has developed "girls in the outdoors" videos at three National Parks. GSUSA is promoting Every Kid in a Park through Girl Scouts’ websites and by highlighting the 8 badges a Girl Scout Junior can easily earn when visiting public lands. GSUSA is also developing a "Get Outside" button for the online volunteer tool kit to help volunteers take activities they do with girls outside and will promote this initiative through social media assets on the GSUSA blog, Facebook and other outlets.
Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation
In support of Every Kid in a Park, the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation has initiated a $25,000 fund with DonorsChoose.org, a crowdfunding platform for teachers. The fund is currently supporting Every Kid in a Park field trips and will provide 4th graders with hands-on opportunities to explore the outdoors and connect with nature. Fourth grade teachers from around the country can request up to $500 to support transportation for field trips to a U.S. national park, forest, wildlife refuge, or other federal lands or waters as part of the Every Kid in a Park initiative.
Kokua Hawai’i Foundation
Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation is supporting Every Kid in a Park with a commitment of $100,000 worth of KHF Field Trip Grants, with the goal of reaching all 17,000 4th grade students in the state of Hawaiʻi. The Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation supports environmental education in schools and communities of Hawai’i. The mission of the foundation is to provide students with experiences that will enhance their appreciation for and understanding of their environment so they will be lifelong stewards of the earth.
National Marine Sanctuary Foundation
This year, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF) is supporting the Every Kid in a Park initiative by creating a dedicated segment of its annual competitive grantmaking program, the Ernest F. Hollings Ocean Awareness Trust Fund Grants. NMSF is funding four innovative projects encouraging more than 9,000 4th graders and their families, particularly those in underserved schools and communities, to adopt an ocean stewardship ethic through experiences in our nation’s federally-designated National Marine Sanctuary System. Field trips to existing and potential future sanctuaries, where young people will explore marine life, maritime heritage, research and conservation, are complemented with classroom STEM-focused learning activities.
National Parks Conservation Association
National Parks Conservation Association commits to help Every Kid in a Park by engaging more than 1,000 4th graders, parents, and teachers at NPCA events in 2016. We will also promote the initiative through social media channels, provide materials about it at events, and connect Members of Congress with Every Kid in a Park outings.
National Park Foundation
The National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks, has raised more than $3 million in support of getting nearly 400,000 4th graders to more than 200 parks and public land sites. The Foundation will continue its efforts for the Every Kid in A Park initiative by continuing to raise critical dollars that ensure young people have the opportunity to experience America’s national parks. The Foundation will also continue to leverage its robust media platforms to support the initiative including its popular website (nationalparks.org), "GoParks" newsletter, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram platforms.
National Park Hospitality Association
The concessioner members of the National Park Hospitality Association are supporting Every Kid in a Park by playing a direct role in the visits of at least 15,000 4th graders to some 30 national park units during the 2015-16 school year alone. Free boat rides, lunches, and overnight stays, discounts on recreation activities in national parks and more are just some of the ways national park concessioners are helping connect 4th graders and their families with America’s public lands and waters. These commitments will extend beyond the current academic year. Concessioners’ efforts are aimed at making these visits – often first-ever visits to a national park – fun, and making the kids eager to come back for more fun for the rest of their lives.
National Park Trust
Through two national youth programs, Kids to Parks Day and Buddy Bison School Program, National Park Trust has worked with more than 130 schools this year and has encouraged each 4th grade class to take advantage of this unique opportunity. In addition, NPT will be getting every 4th grader in Ventura County, California to Channel Islands National Park. Every Kid in a Park has helped NPT engage even more students than ever before.
NatureBridge will support Every Kid in a Park by bringing over 30,000 students, including over 2,000 of our nation's 4th graders, each year, to six campuses in national parks. NatureBridge provides hands-on environmental science programs for children and teens. These multi-day programs take place outdoors in the magnificence of nature’s classroom, where students are immersed in the wonder and science of our national parks in Yosemite, Golden Gate, Olympic, Santa Monica Mountains, Channel Islands, and Prince William Forest.
The North Face
A portion of this year’s The North Face Explore Fund grants have been designated to nonprofits that support the initiative and bring 4th graders on meaningful outdoor experiences where the Every Kid in a Park pass is accepted. In support of Every Kid in a Park, The North Face and Jaunt VR are teaming up to bring an inspirational and immersive virtual reality experience to 4th grade students and their families, giving them a taste of what it is like to discover and explore public lands throughout the U.S. Based in Palo Alto California, Jaunt is a pioneering virtual reality company that brings compelling VR experiences right to your smartphone.
Outdoor Afro will enthusiastically support and promote President Obama's Every Kid in a Park initiative. Outdoor Afro celebrates and inspires African American connections to nature. We do this with our team of over 60 trained outdoor recreation and conservation enthusiasts, representing 28 states with over 12,000 outdoor event participants of all ages. We also reach millions more through a coordinated social media effort that has successfully shifted the visual representation and narrative of who gets outdoors.
Outdoor Alliance is a national nonprofit coalition of outdoor recreation advocacy groups for climbers, mountain bikers, backcountry skiers, and paddlers. We look forward to sharing the Every Kid in a Park initiative on our website and social media channels, as well as through our coalition network.
OAK - Outdoors Alliance for Kids
As a national strategic partnership of more than 80 organizations and businesses from diverse sectors, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) is working to increase equitable and readily-available opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. OAK has been working to raise awareness about the President's initiative, including helping to launch the Washington, DC, New York City and Hawaii Every Kid in a Park programs in 2015 with major events in each location. In 2016, OAK is working to activate its members and expects to reach 10,000 kids across the country through events and sustained programming, including collaboration with schools, non-profits and local land management agencies.
Outdoor Industry Association and The Outdoor Foundation
To help celebrate the Centennial year of “America’s best idea,” and the new great idea launched by the Obama Administration – the Every Kid in a Park initiative – Outdoor Foundation and Outdoor Industry Association created “Parks 4 Kids.” This online platform supports the Every Kid in a Park effort by funding schools and nonprofits to ensure their programs can provide America’s youth with outdoor experiences, this year, and in years to come, and has already raised more than $250,000 since launching in January.
Specialty outdoor retailer REI is today announcing a $25,000 grant to ensure every public school 4th grader in the District of Columbia has a park experience this year. REI’s motto is “a life outdoors is a life well-lived,” and in the Centennial year, the co-op has demonstrated its commitment to that belief through a multi-million dollar partnership with the National Park Foundation, supporting stewardship and activations around the country. To mark the Fall opening of a flagship store in D.C., REI wants to help ensure that 4th graders across the nation’s capital have a chance to experience the wonders of time spent in nature. The REI grant will be complemented by $10,000 from The Conservation Fund and Outdoor Foundation (OF), the philanthropic arm of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA).
Using its reach into every school in the country, Scholastic has developed and distributed custom Every Kid in a Park classroom resources to virtually every 4th grade teacher in the United States. The resources, provided to classrooms in both print and digital formats, provide teachers with the tools necessary to activate the next generation of outdoors enthusiasts. Through its "Backpack Channel," Scholastic has also brought Every Kid in a Park into homes across the country, elevating awareness among parents and calling on each of them to capitalize on the free pass and introduce their children to federal lands and waters.
The Sierra Club will host hundreds of outings on our public lands, from neighborhood parks to national parks. Through promotion of the Every Kid in a Park program and other outings, we are focused on engaging our 2.4 million members and supporters to open doors to help underserved children and communities connect with nature. As just one example, the Sierra Club is working with the Every Kid in a Park program in Los Angeles to help children from park-poor communities explore the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.
Student Conservation Association
By increasing the number of young Americans empowered through hands-on service-learning in national parks and public lands, the Student Conservation Association (SCA) supports both the practice and the spirit of placing Every Kid in a Park. Working in cities across the U.S., SCA’s ConSERVE community service events and Urban Tree House elementary-level environmental education programs aim to engage 1,000 4th graders annually to support the Every Kid in a Park initiative. SCA will also leverage its national social media audience to promote the initiative and share the value of connecting young people to nature.
Sub Rosa, a strategy and design practice based in New York, delivers business and creative solutions for complex multinationals and start-ups, cultural institutions, communities, and renowned individuals. To support Civic Nation’s Every Kid in a Park campaign, Sub Rosa helped develop and launch EveryKidinaPark.org, providing a multitude of services including creative direction, content strategy, UX design, social media strategy, and web development. Additionally, Sub Rosa will be joining The North Face and Jaunt in producing an all-new virtual reality experience that furthers the Every Kid in a Park initiative.
Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land will support the Every Kid in a Park initiative by promoting content related to the public awareness campaign via social media and other communications platforms. Additionally, the Trust for Public Land has established a mission goal of creating a park within a 10-minute walk of everyone in America’s cities. We will work to leverage the goals of the Every Kid in a Park initiative as it encourages others to adopt the 10-minute walk standard for providing nearby access to parks and open space.
U.S. Travel Association
The U.S. Travel Association, whose mission is to increase travel to and within the United States, will engage its diverse membership and the broader travel community to foster greater awareness and engagement with the Every Kid in a Park initiative as well as the National Park Service Centennial celebration. These efforts will complement Project: Time Off, a national movement from U.S. Travel and a Coalition of supporters, to win back America’s Lost Week of vacation and shift culture so that time off is understood as essential to personal well-being, professional success, business performance, and economic expansion.
The Wilderness Society
The Wilderness Society (TWS) is supporting Every Kid in a Park through its partnership with the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK). Together, TWS and OAK will develop a robust and vibrant Every Kid in a Park initiative that provides an increasing number of 4th grade students with outdoor experiences every year, including through the recently announced Every Kid in a Park Spring Tour sponsoring events to get thousands of 4th graders outside this year. Additionally, TWS and OAK will also be working with their partners in the federal land management agencies to institutionalize the Every Kid in a Park initiative so that it continues beyond the end of the Obama Administration.
Wildlife Conservation Society
The Wildlife Conservation Society – which promotes the benefits to all of being outside in nature, including through five zoological facilities – will highlight the Every Kid in a Park initiative in educational programs, camps, on website and social media platforms, and at each of the Wildlife Conservation Society facilities to ensure that children and adults alike are exposed to the benefits of being outdoors.
YMCA of the USA
YMCA will encourage local YMCAs across the country to provide healthy outdoor experiences at local, state and national parks to the 950,000 youth that participate in summer camping programs. Additionally, YMCA is collaborating with Let’s Move! Outside partners in 50 cities convened by YMCAs to support Every Kid in a Park through existing activities and partnerships on public lands. To share best practices for getting kids outdoors on public lands, YMCA will also disseminate success stories about YMCAs with active National Park Service partnerships through internal communications and help raise awareness publicly through social media, reminding families to engage in outdoor activities together.
Washington, D.C. – Large and small concessioners serving visitors to national parks across the nation are responding enthusiastically to the President’s Every Kid in a Park initiative, a partner-based effort to connect over four million fourth graders with state and national parks and other public lands and waters. The program has important education, health and fun components.
Each year, concessioners provide some 100 million national park visitors with lodging, food, retail and transportation services as well as outfitter and guide adventures. The companies work with the National Park Service and various other partners, from gateway communities to park friends organizations, to deliver great experiences in great places. The trade association of these concessioners, the National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA), has worked with the White House and federal agencies to provide support for the 4th grader visits as part of school groups and to help the families of the 4th graders use a key feature of Every Kid in a Park – a year-long pass allowing free entrance by the 4th graders and their families to national parks and other federal recreation sites.
NPHA Chairman Terry MacRae announced that concessioners will be playing a direct role in the visits of at least 15,000 4th graders to some 30 national park units during the 2015-16 academic year. The services concessioners will provide will vary and include free boat transport of classes to destinations such as the Statue of Liberty, Alcatraz and Fort Sumter, overnight lodging in Grand Teton for 4th graders from a Title I school in Idaho, discounts on recreation on the National Mall, lunches for 1,000 4th graders at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and many other park experiences – including overnight stays – across the country. The concessioners delivered an initial pledge to the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and renewed this promise during the initiative’s one-year anniversary in February.
MacRae noted that these commitments will extend beyond the current academic year. “Like the White House, we understand that a changing America makes special outreach efforts inviting youth to learn more about their shared legacy of our parks and Great Outdoors vital. This effort needs to continue year after year – becoming an institutionalized part of every American youth’s educational career. Our efforts will be aimed at making these visits – often first-ever visits to a national park – fun, and making the kids eager to come back for more fun for the rest of their lives. And while we have them, we will team up with the National Park Service to tell our park stories, let the kids sample some tasty and healthy food and be active,” said MacRae. “We hope that some of these 4th graders will come back and become some of the 25,000 people we employ in our national parks – or become park rangers!”
Among the parks with concessioners currently participating in the program are:
Big Bend National Park (TX)
Bryce Canyon National Park (UT)
Death Valley National Park (CA)
Dry Tortugas National Park (FL)
Everglades National Park (FL)
Fort Sumter National Monument (SC)
George Washington Memorial Parkway (VA)
Gettysburg National Military Park/Eisenhower National Historic Site (PA)
Washington, D.C. – National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA) Counselor Derrick Crandall told Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee members at a recent hearing that national park concessioners can and should play a key role in helping the National Park Service (NPS) solve its financial problems. He pointed out that the National Park Service “is capital-strapped and has a well-documented inability to maintain its infrastructure … to meet visitor needs and expectations. Concessioners have been, are and can be key partners in overcoming these challenges.”
The December 8 hearing on an Obama Administration proposal for new authorities for NPS and highlighted bipartisan interest in preparing the National Park Service (NPS) for its Centennial in 2016. Mr. Crandall offered forward looking testimony detailing innovative ways concessioners can help the Park Service serve its visitors for the next 100 years. NPS Director Jon Jarvis, National Park Foundation (NPF) President & CEO Will Shafroth and National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) President & CEO Theresa Pierno also testified.
Mr. Crandall explained to the unusually large and bipartisan groups of Senators participating in the hearing that most of the National Park System’s iconic lodges were built and have been maintained with private dollars. These expenditures, he told the panel, “don’t require offsets, don’t use taxpayer dollars, don’t add to the nation’s deficit.” “...concessioners can be a significant player in reducing NPS’ deferred maintenance backlog now facing American taxpayers with a few changes...” He offered several ideas including encouraging and rewarding concessioner excellence, appropriate use of Leaseholder Surrender Interest (LSI), lengthening of concessioner contracts, flexibility in meeting contemporary visitor wants and needs, increases in operating times and seasons, and expanding visitor services in many NPS units that are currently largely invisible to the public.
Mr. Crandall praised NPS for using the Centennial to invite all Americans to their national parks through the Find Your Park campaign, Every Kid in a Park initiative and more. “But this invitation is just a first step. We need to be prepared to deliver great experiences in these great places. And that takes money and staff and facilities. This is the challenge of the Centennial and beyond, and where we need the help of the Congress.”
NPHA’s full testimony – including a letter advocating for a new source of funding through the federal gas tax called “Penny for Parks” – can be read and downloaded here. The hearing was livestreamed and can be watched here.
House Natural Resources Committee Holds Hearing on NPS Centennial Act Discussion Draft
The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a hearing December 2 on a National Park Service Centennial Act discussion draft. The draft – assembled under the leadership of Natural Resources Committee Chair Rob Bishop (R-UT) – reflects the Congress’ strong desire for recreation enhancements on federal lands and new financial strategies beyond appropriations. The legislation’s purpose statement makes this clear saying, “To prepare the National Park Service for its Centennial in 2016 and for a second century of promoting and protecting the natural, historic, and cultural resources of our National Parks for the enjoyment of present and future generations, and for other purposes.”This latest hearing follows several hearings in both the House and Senate over the last few months where Members of Congress have expressed strong, bipartisan support for increasing visitor services that would attract more Americans to their Great Outdoors -- a wonderful opportunity for real progress during the 114th Congress. A copy of the discussion draft can be found here, and the hearing can be watched here.
NPHA supplied testimony to the hearing which can be found here.
Congress Focuses on People In Parks
Park concessioners will make their voices heard on a number of extremely important issues this week. The U.S. House of Representatives will hold two hearings directly focusing on concessioners and national parks Thursday, July 23. Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) – chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Interior – is expected to open her hearing by lauding NPS for leading the way on public/private partnerships to serve the nation, with private dollars building much of the NPS visitor infrastructure beginning in the late 1800s. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) – chair of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands – is expected to open his hearing with a reference to plans to update FLREA (Federal Land Recreation Enhancement Act) this fall, and including expanding the bill beyond fee authority to key other tools like the Centennial Challenge and NAFI authority.
To find out more about the hearings, including how to watch them and where you can read testimony, click here.
Find Your Park
A park can be a place, a passion or a state of mind. People all around America are finding their park every day. So get up. Get out there. Find your park. It might be closer than you think. Learn more at http://findyourpark.com.
Find Your Park Toolkit Available
The National Park Foundation has just released a letter announcing that on April 2, 2015, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation will officially launch Find Your Park – a nationwide public engagement campaign to celebrate the second century of America’s national parks. The letter also requests help from the parks community in spreading the Find Your Park message and provides a link to an expanded Toolkit containing displays, a media package, campaign plans, information on Centennial Premier level partners, and much more. The toolkit is available in the "Tools" section at http://www.nextcenturyforparks.com.
"Partners in Parks - United for America" describes the historic role played by concessioners in national parks - protecting the parks and serving their visitors for more than 100 years. This informative video also covers the key challenges facing America's national parks today and the role parks concessioners can play in keeping the American people connected to their parks.
Explore America was produced by the National Parks Promotion Council to inspire interest in visiting America's National Parks. Longer, half-hour and hour versions of the video produced for the U.S. Travel Association's International Pow Wow and the U.S. Department of State. Special thanks is given to Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Finley Holiday Films, the NPS and many states, gateway communities and national park-related businesses who contributed still and motion images.
NPHA Welcomes Three New Members as Preferred Vendors
The National Park Hospitality Association is very pleased to welcome Thompson & Little, Inc., Dowdle Folk Art and Old Hickory Furniture Company as the organization’s newest members. Each will be a Preferred Vendor, recognizing commitment to providing high levels of quality in goods and services and support for the association’s mission of offering park visitors great experiences in great places.
“NPHA is excited to welcome these three new members,” said NPHA Vice Chairman and chair of NPHA’s Membership Committee Alex Klein. “We look forward to their contributions at our upcoming meeting this month and beyond as we work collectively to prepare for the next century of the National Park Service.”
Outdoor Champions of Color Call For Clearer Invitation and Better Front-Country Visitor Services
Washington, D.C. (June 19, 2014) -- “Hosting All Americans in Their Great Outdoors” was the theme that sparked the most passionate and inspired discussions at Partners Outdoors 2014, held this year at the U.S. Department of the Interior during Great Outdoors Month. The discussions were designed to move well beyond recognition that federal recreation sites receive low levels of visits from Americans of color and focus how barriers could be eliminated and greater visitation encouraged.
The day included presentations from panelists Culture ONE World Founder Carlos Alcazar, author Audrey Peterman and Greening Youth Foundation Founder Angelou Ezeilo.
Park Concessioners Address Park Service Centennial and Expanded Visitor Services During Annual Meeting
Washington, D.C. (March 19, 2014) -- The National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA) met with leadership of the National Park Service and key allied organizations during a snowy March week to discuss ways to attract more visitors to national parks and assure that visitors have great experiences during those visits. Park visitation was down in 2013 but NPHA and a wide array of park interests outlined important initiatives underway which will redefine national parks and attract more visitors – including younger, more urban and more diverse visitors.
Highlights of the meeting included: ● Reports on a pilot effort in Shenandoah National Park now underway to restore a historic structure under a partnership involving the National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Corps Network, Delaware North Companies and the National Park Service (NPS). Eight conservation corps members, mentored by skilled restoration architects and craftsman, are rehabilitating a visitor facility at sharply lowered costs than with normal contracting and with many important serendipities, including new skills attained by the youth. ● Discussions about new strategies to enhance national park interpretation and education programs, including active involvement by concessioners. NPHA has a representative on a new advisory body aiding NPS Associate Director Julia Washburn in the development of a new interpretation and education business plan. ● An update on the NPHA RentMyTent program being developed in cooperation with The Coleman Company which will allow thousands of visitors to camp in national parks beginning this summer using tents and other camping equipment reserved through NPHA members. ● A review of efforts underway to expand cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity in visitor services areas of national parks. ● In-depth conversations with NPS Director Jon Jarvis addressing the challenges of 2013, including Sequestration and Shutdowns, and the important opportunities ahead to continue the essential role of concessioners in serving visitor needs in national parks long into the next century of NPS operations. ● A presentation on the exciting efforts underway by Brand USA, the Congressionally-chartered corporation charged with increasing international visitation to the USA. Brand USA is sponsoring an IMAX film which will celebrate the Centennial of the National Park Service and is also using America’s Great Outdoors as its overall promotion focus for the next two years. ● An update on the NPS and National Park Foundation (NPF) efforts to use the 2016 Centennial of the NPS to build awareness of, connection to and actions on behalf of America’s national parks. Grey of New York is leading development of a comprehensive campaign using the overall theme of Find Your Park, and involving targeting of Millennials for special invitations to connect with parks. ● A conversation with NPF President Neil Mulholland about cooperative efforts on the Grey campaign, on the guest donations program and on a new undertaking to define private investment strategies in national parks under the leadership of the Urban Land Institute. ● A review of key legal issues involving the October Shutdown and the 1998 Concessions Act, including recent court actions; and ● A conversation with key park partners including leaders from the National Parks Conservation Association, the Association of Partners for Public Lands, the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, NatureBridge and health and Latino partners.
NPHA’s board elected Terry MacRae as Chairman and added Alex Klein as a new Vice Chairman of the organization. Mr. MacRae is CEO of Hornblower Cruises and Events, serving visitors to park sites in San Francisco and New York City. He has led NPHA efforts in the marketing field. Mr. Klein is Vice President and General Manager of Grand Teton Lodge Company and Flagg Ranch Company, both in Wyoming.
"Every opportunity should be afforded the public, wherever possible, to enjoy the national parks in the manner that best satisfies the individual taste." -Franklin K. Lane
Secretary of the Interior's Letter on National Park Management to National Park Service Director Stephen Mather May 13, 1918