NY – $1.3 Million to Improve State Park Hiking Trails and Recreation

Photo via Flickr creative commons Mark Holden (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that $1.3 million in funding would be awarded to 17 projects to improve state park hiking trails and outdoor recreational projects across the state.

Improving the trails are part of the governor’s commitment to improving park and increasing tourism around the state through the NY Parks 2020 Plan.

“These trails are pathways to the unparalleled natural beauty that exists in every corner of New York,” Cuomo said in a statement. “With this funding, we will ensure they remain well-maintained and accessible for years to come and I encourage residents and visitors alike to take a trip and experience these natural treasures for themselves.”

 The state parks that are being awarded include Fillmore Glen State Park, Saratoga-Capital Region State Parks, Finger Lakes Region State Parks and Rockland Lake State Park.

The governor’s NY Parks 2020 program is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding from 2011 to 2020. The 2016-2017 state budget allocates $90 million to this initiative.

“People need safe and enjoyable places to hike, job, bike or horseback ride,” Rose Harvey, the Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said in a statement. “State Park trails offer some of the best places to explore and discover New York’s great outdoors, and I’m grateful to Governor Cuomo for improving and expanding the trail networks in our State Parks.”

KY – Four Western Kentucky State Parks Get $3.7M in Upgrades

Four Western Kentucky State Parks Get $3.7M in Upgrades

Kentucky’s state park system is in need of $240 million dollars in repairs according to state Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Secretary Don Parkinson. In an effort to address safety and aesthetic issues, Parkinson and Kentucky State Parks commissioner Donnie Holland unveiled plans today to spend $3.7 million on repairs, upgrades and fresh coats of paint at four western parks.

The state resort parks at Lake Barkley, Kentucky Dam Village, Kenlake, and the Pennyrile Forest are set to be improved over the next two years. The upgrades are part of the “Refreshing the Finest” campaign, an $18 million effort approved by the general assembly and Governor Matt Bevin.

Parkinson and Holland say it has been decades since the state invested in its park system. Deferred maintenance, Holland says, is the reason the lodge at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park caught fire and why the conference center at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park has been condemned.

Full article ->


PA – Lawmakers reject bill to open state parks to private development


Pa. lawmakers reject bill to open state parks to private development

Proponents wanted more golf courses, inns and conference centers; opponents said it would be counter to the parks’ purpose

The Pennsylvania House soundly rejected Tuesday legislation that could have led to state parks with privately developed and run hotels and even amusement parks.

The proposal failed on a 77-123 vote, despite the sponsor offering a significantly watered down version of the bill late Monday.

Several bill opponents, including Rep. Stephen McCarter, a Democrat representing Philadelphia’s northeastern suburbs, cited language in the state constitution requiring the preservation and protection of the state’s natural landscape for future generations.

The bill alarmed the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation and numerous environmental groups. The measure had cleared two of the three required votes in the House.


Full article ->

ID – KTVB’s Viewpoint on Idaho State Parks, Historical Museum

KTVB’s Viewpoint on Idaho State Parks

Video.  Interview with Parks Director David Langhorst re corporate sponsorships, and other updates on the  30 Idaho state parks.

KTVB Viewpoint video ->


Job Opportunity – IA – Public Service Manager 1

Position:  Public Service Manager 1 –  Parks Bureau
The Department of Natural Resources, State Parks Bureau, has an opening for a Public Service Manager 1.  This position serves as District Supervisor for State Parks District 3 in South-West  Iowa.  The positon is housed at Cold Springs State Park, Lewis, Iowa and directly supervises ~15 employees. This positions responsibilities include personnel supervision, budget administration, park operations oversight, administrative planning and assisting the Bureau Chief in implementing and meeting other agency responsibilities.

BrassRing:           17515BR
Location:             Conservation and Recreation Division, Parks Bureau, Cold Springs State Park, Lewis, IA
Hours:                  Non-standard work week – some weekends, holidays, and nights
Closing Date:     July 15, 2016 – 11:00 p.m.

For specific job duties, requirements, and application information, visit https://das.iowa.gov/human-resources/state-employment/ , select “Permanent State Employees” and then select the BR#.

Human Resources Associate | Customer & Employee Services Bureau

Iowa Department of Natural Resources
P 515.725.8259 | F 515.725.8260 |amanda.davidson@dnr.iowa.gov<mailto:amanda.davidson@dnr.iowa.gov>
Wallace State Office Building | 502 East 9th St. | Des Moines, IA 50319






This unclassified full-time position is located at Glen Elder State Park, Parks Division; and is directly supervised by Rick Martin, Natural Resource Officer IV.

The incumbent provides direct supervision and coordination of staff to operate Glen Elder State Park. Duties include preparing budget requests; purchasing supplies and equipment; directing the sale of department permits and licenses, includes the collection and accounting of funds received; planning and overseeing contracted work; supervising and coordinating the construction, maintenance and repair of area buildings, grounds, equipment, roads, ditches, dikes, shelters, beaches, boat ramps and utilities; actively participating in interviewing, hiring, training and evaluating employees; enforcing laws, rules, and regulations pertaining to the protection of park facilities and visitors; and providing information regarding park rules, facilities, and area history.

If an applicant is not currently law enforcement certified, our agency will send the successful applicant to the required training as listed below. Applicants do not have to be law enforcement certified to apply.

BENEFITS: Beginning hourly salary, $23.31; group health and life insurance; retirement; optional deferred compensation, dental and vision options; holidays; and sick and vacation leave.

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS: Bachelor’s degree in park or natural resource management or other related degrees as determined by the Department and three years of related work experience. Education may be substituted by the Department. Candidates having management experience and broad based interaction with community organizations will receive preference. Applicants who have the ability to effectively interface with employees and the general public are highly desired. The successful candidate must pass a background check and must be a credible witness in court.

NECESSARY SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS: This class requires the employee to be certified as a law enforcement officer by the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Commission. Certification must be obtained before the employee is given permanent status. The employee must complete a basic law enforcement training program recognized by the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Commission and annual training as required by K.S.A. 74-5607a.

This class requires the use of a firearm for law enforcement duties; therefore, to be eligible for appointment to a position in this class, candidates cannot have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor domestic violence crime as set forth in 18 U.S.C.§ 992 (g) (8) and (9).To be eligible for certification in the state of Kansas, one must also be free of any diversions from a felony or misdemeanor domestic violence crime as set forth by the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Act.

Candidates for positions in this class must have the following: be a U.S. citizen; be 21 years of age at the time of appointment; free of conviction of any crime punishable by imprisonment in a federal penitentiary or a state prison; and be required to pass a physical exam administered by the hiring agency.

This class requires that at the time of appointment the selected candidate must take and pass a drug screening test approved by the Office of Personnel Services.

HOW TO APPLY: Qualified applicants must register with the State of Kansas by completing the personal information registration form to obtain their State of Kansas Applicant ID Number. This form may be completed online at https://admin.ks.gov/services/state-employment-center/sec-home/state-employment/register- personal-data. Qualified applicants may apply by submitting ALL of the following items:

1) a letter of interest, which includes your State of Kansas ID Number;
2) a detailed resume; including a valid e-mail address;
3) transcript material, if applicable, (copies of official transcripts or unofficial student copies are acceptable as long as degree is conferred);
4) KDWPT employment application located at http://www.ksoutdoors.com/news/KDWPT-Info/Jobs/Employment-Application-Additional-Info;
5) an authorization to release information form** located at http://www.ksoutdoors.com/news/KDWPT-Info/Jobs/Employment-Application-Additional-Info and,
**Please note, this form must either be witnessed and signed by a Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism employee or signed in front of and notarized by a notary public. We reserve the right to conduct a background check on all qualified applicants.
6) Kansas Tax Clearance Certificate

Kansas Tax Clearance Certificate: Each applicant applying for a State of Kansas job vacancy must obtain a State Tax Clearance Certificate by accessing the Kansas Department of Revenue’s website at http://www.ksrevenue.org/taxclearance.html. A Tax Clearance is a comprehensive tax account review to determine and ensure that an individual’s account is compliant with all primary Kansas Tax Laws. Applicants are responsible for submitting their certificate with all other application materials to the hiring agency. This is in accordance with Executive Order 2004-03.

Application materials should be sent to kdwprecruitment@ksoutdoors.com or may be sent to Human Resources Office, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, 512 SE 25th Avenue, Pratt KS 67124, phone number 620-672-5911. Incomplete applications will not be considered. A complete application packet must be submitted for each position. We no longer make copies of previous applications. Submitted application materials will be reviewed in Pratt to assure that the position minimum requirements are met, and those meeting the minimum requirements will be forwarded to the respective division for interview selection.

Applicants are notified whether or not they are selected to interview. The interview is generally a one-time, panel interview consisting of position-specific questions for all applicants (same questions for each applicant), with the selection being made after all candidate interviews are completed.

Veterans’ Preference Eligible (VPE): Former military personnel or their spouse that have been verified as a “veteran” under K.S.A. 73-201 will receive an interview if they meet the minimum requirements of the position. The veterans’ preference laws do not guarantee the veteran a job. Positions are filled with the best qualified candidate as determined by the appointing authority. Additional VPE information can be found at http://da.ks.gov/ps/aaa/recruitment/veterans.htm Applicants claiming veterans’ preference for the first time must mail a copy of your DD-214 to the Office of Personnel Services, 900 SW Jackson, Room 401-N, Topeka KS 66612, or FAX to 785/291-3715.


The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures your right to reasonable accommodations during the employment process–individuals with disabilities are encouraged to contact the agency recruiter if reasonable accommodations are needed for any part of the application or hiring process. Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. Veteran’s Preference Eligible.

NC – Grandfather Mountain: The History and Guide to an Appalachian Icon

On Charlotte Today yesterday morning on WCNC-TV discussing the  new book Grandfather Mountain: The History and Guide to an Appalachian Icon and was able to promote the centennial of state parks and the Grandfather event. Just click the link.

My new book has been reviewed extensively over the last few weeks in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV—and I always focus on Grandfather Mountain State Park and the centennial.   This Thursday June 30, on UNC-TV, DG Martin’s NC Bookwatch show features the park and my book at 5 p.m. If you can’t watch then, just check out this video link.



Randy Johnson
Travel Editor / SkiSoutheast.Com


Weather Channel | 10 Coolest Things in State Parks Across America


State parks get a bad rap. Though there are more than 10,000 state park areas in the U.S. on more than 18 million acres, they don’t carry the same majesty as names like Yellowstone or Yosemite.

But they should, because our state parks are some of the most beautiful and geographically unique destinations on the map. Take one state park in Arizona that boasts a natural waterslide made of smooth sandstone. Or another in New Hampshire that includes a tram-accessible mountain where four states can be seen at once.

Here the coolest features at state parks across the U.S. They make the case that national parks are just part of the bigger picture that is our nation’s protected lands.

full story ->


AL – Gulf State Park Renovations on Schedule

Gulf State Park Renovations on Schedule

By: Rick Harmon, Alabama Tourism Department

MONTGOMERY (Governor’s Office) – Major developments at Gulf State Park that range from a beach environmental center to a 350-room lodge for family reunions are under construction and on schedule to open within two years, Gov. Robert Bentley announced today.

Creating miles of trails for biking and hiking and restoring sugary white sand dunes that would cover the equivalent of 50 football fields will be completed even earlier, he said.

Bentley, who tasked the University of Alabama System and the Alabama Department of Conservation to work together on the $135 million project, said that the work won’t be funded through taxes but financed with funds that BP provided to restore the economy along the Gulf Coast after the 2010 oil spill.

Three of the projects are currently under construction: the dune restoration, the trails and trail enhancements, and the lodge and meeting space.

All five components will open by summer 2018 with the trails expected to open by spring 2017, he said.

The redevelopment, which Gov. Robert Bentley promised voters before his election in 2010, is expected to be a huge boon to an already surging Gulf Coast economy.

“This will preserve and enhance the natural wonders of Gulf State Park, make it a national showplace and teaching tool, while also boosting the economy of the state,” Bentley said.

The Gulf State Park project was one of the first Alabama projects approved by the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustee Council, which was set up to disperse BP money and  includes representatives from four federal agencies and the five affected states.  But some have protested the move, and filed lawsuits, saying the funds shouldn’t be used on Gulf State Park because it was damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 rather than the oil spill.

Increasing tourism

The renovation includes $56 million to replace the park lodge.  That will add 350 rooms and a 40,000 square-foot ballroom, the biggest on the Gulf Coast, which will create a major space for meetings.

“We know there is pent-up demand for additional meeting space on our coast,” said Herb Malone, president and CEO of the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism.  “This should help meet that demand and bring in larger groups that may not have been able to hold their meetings or conventions here before.”

But Lee Sentell, director of state tourism, said the redeveloped park won’t just attract conventions.  He expects it to become a major ecological tourist site.

“The last six governors talked about investing in Gulf State Park to reach its potential, but Gov. Bentley made good on his campaign promise with vision and money,” Sentell said.

“Because of the Governor’s vision in redeveloping this park, it will be a major draw for those who want to learn as well as experience nature in a new and exciting way.”

Since 2003, the amount tourism has contributed to the general fund has more than doubled, going from $23 million to $47 million.  In 2015, Alabama tourism created $12.6 billion in visitor spending, generating about $798 million in state and local taxes.

Malone said the redevelopment at Gulf State Park will only help Gulf Coast tourism, both as a premier ecological park and as a meeting space that will help the state get a larger share of convention business.

“It would give us a larger meeting space than we currently have, and it would mean more meetings held here during our shoulder seasons,” Malone said.  “That will generate more year-round jobs and bring Alabama association’s meetings, many of which have had to be held in Florida because we simply didn’t have the space, back to Alabama.”

Preserving parks ecosystems

Project spokeswomen Nisa Miranda said Gulf State Park is a unique asset to Alabama in that it contains eight distinct ecosystems and with both beach and forest ecologies inside a single park.

She said improving access to both ecologies will help attract tourists to the region even when it isn’t peak season for the coast. The renovation project consulted several internationally renowned experts who collaborated on developing the environmentally sensitive projects at the park.

One of the major ones is the dune project.

Jill Dixon is with Sasaki Associates, a firm of landscape architects that has worked on the master plan for the renovations, including work with the Volkert engineering firm responsible for the Dune Restoration Project.

“Our team, comprised of some of the nation’s foremost experts in their respective fields, will be using innovative techniques and native plantings to rebuild the equivalent of more than 50 football fields of dunes,” she said.

They have come up with a way to encourage the dunes to naturally form themselves, which will make them more resilient than man-made dunes.  The innovative techniques being developed and used for the park are the focus of an article in the March 2016 edition of Landscape Architecture, the magazine of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

The result of these techniques should be more protection from storms and for the animals that use the dunes as core habitats, including hundreds of migratory bird species and such endangered species as loggerhead sea turtles, least terns and the Alabama beach mouse.

“The purpose of these renovations are to respect the existing ecologies while working with nature to preserve the beauty and specialness of the the park,” Miranda said.

Alabama’s coastal classroom

Miranda, who said cooperation between the state and the University of Alabama system on the project has been seamless, is also proud of another part of the renovation – making the park “Alabama’s coastal classroom.”

The renovations include: a learning campus, a new environmental research and education program that will include a center with classrooms, research facilities and even visitor dorms; a nature center within the campground where visitors can meet with the park’s naturalist to find out about the ecology and to take guided walks; and an interpretive center on the beach that will inspire families to take their own self-guided tours of the trails.

The trails also will be improved.  There will be seven trails through six distinct ecosystems spanning 11.5 miles.  The enhancement project will add 9.5 miles of new trails for hiking and biking.

While rebuilding the destroyed lodge, the team has gone to great lengths to make the 350-room lodge fit in with its environment.

The new lodge has a smaller footprint than the previous one and is set more than 125 feet further back from the beaches to encourage dune formation.

“Making it environmentally sustainable has been a big focus of the renovation,” Miranda said.  “Everything from how it has been constructed, to the materials used in its construction, to how it will operate has been done so that it will have less of an environmental impact than other types of construction.”

Improved ecology equals improved economy

Being green, may lead to another kind of green.

Miranda says the more the park promotes its environment, the more popular it will be with visitors.

Sentell agrees, saying the park’s mixture of unique ecosystems and environmental teaching initiatives could make it a major ecotourism site.

The renovated park’s popularity won’t just help the local economy, but will bring in tourism that will help the general fund and will particularly help other state parks that now largely depend on state park user fees for their funding.

“The Legislature has had difficulty adequately funding the state park system, and the fees Gulf State Park will bring in once it has been redeveloped will be a godsend to financially beleaguered parks throughout the state,” Bentley said.

The redeveloped park is also expected to keep the Gulf Coast’s tourism numbers soaring.

“The beach drives state tourism,” Sentell said.  “The entire state benefits from this, both through the funds going to the general fund and from the money tourists spend in counties throughout the state while they are driving to the beach.”

As an example, 400,000 more visitors came to Baldwin County in 2015 than in 2014, and Malone believes from what he’s seen so far in 2016 that Alabama’s Gulf Coast will likely have a sixth straight record-breaking year.