Oregon State Parks Joins Forces with National Alliance
|Silver Falls State Park
(Salem, Oregon) - On February 16, the National Association of State Park Directors introduced the America's State Parks alliance to mobilize and educate the public and policy makers on the positive impact state parks have on public health and local economies.
Americans demonstrated a strong demand for budget-friendly outdoor recreation and cultural tourism within easy access to home, with more than 725 million visits to America's state parks in 2009. Whether hiking at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon, kayaking in the Chesapeake Bay or surfing a Southern California beach, state parks ranked among the most popular leisure time choices for Americans. Silver Falls State Park was recently voted one of the nation's top ten walks by About.com and the American Volkssport Association (http://walking.about.com/od/trails/a/topten2009.htm).
"Oregonians have a strong connection to their parks," says Tim Wood, Director, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. "We serve 42 million visitors a year, and everyone has their favorite state park to rest and recharge."
"Building state parks creates jobs and operating state parks stimulates outdoor recreation and tourism spending. That translates to a huge boon to our local economies," says NASPD President Joe Elton, Director of Virginia State Parks. "In 2009 visitors to state parks across America helped create a $20 billion economic impact, which is an incredible return on investment given that the overall budget expenditure nationwide is less than $2.3 billion."
"Simple outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and camping on public lands and waters can serve as a gateway to a healthier lifestyle," said former White House Fellow Michael Suk, MD who served with the Department of the Interior and is Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Florida.
All Oregon's 190+ state parks are ready to welcome visitors this year, thanks to ongoing funding support from park visitors, recreational vehicle registrations and the Oregon Lottery. Oregon voters dedicated lottery to state parks in 1998, and continued investments in repairs, improvements and new parks over the last 10 years have protected Oregon's state parks from the threat of decline. Though both Lottery and RV funds have dipped recently - leading to a 13 percent smaller department budget - all state parks will be open this year thanks to increased support from park visitors and prudent budgeting. The agency does not receive general tax funding, and hasn't since 1999.
The America's State Parks alliance will work to share resources, best practices and engage in national partnerships with private businesses for stewardship programs, providing financial and material support for state parks as demand grows and budgets decline.
About the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD)
America's State Parks will help capture the collective strength and importance of the great park systems developed in the 50 states. With over 6,000 units and more than 725 million visits, America's State Parks works to enhance the American quality of life. NASPD board members representing each region of the country will govern the America's State Parks alliance.
Comprised of fifty state park directors, the NASPD (www.naspd.org) was founded in 1962. The mission of the Association is to promote and advance the state park systems of America for their own significance, as well as for their important contributions to the nation's environment, heritage, health and economy.