Group working to get more African Americans to enjoy great outdoors

BY JENNIFER DEMOSS jdemoss@newsobserver.com

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Hikers take in the scenery after descending the steps during the Outdoor Afro trip to Eno River State Park.

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Hikers on the Eno River Outdoor Afro hike take a moment to cool off.

On a hot July afternoon at Eno River State Park in Durham, a group of hikers assembled. The day had been unbearably muggy, and a thunderstorm loomed in the distance. Despite the sweat streaming down a few faces, the group was there for a hike, and they weren’t giving up.

The hikers were part of the Raleigh-Durham network of “Outdoor Afro,” a national organization aimed at getting African Americans outdoors.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Outdoor Afro’s conception in Oakland, California. Yanira Castro, the nonprofit’s communication director, said that last year Outdoor Afro connected about 35,000 people in the United States with nature through activities such as hiking, camping, rock climbing and cycling.

Outdoor Afro founder Rue Mapp first started what she called “a kitchen table blog” on her outdoor activities out of her Oakland home. She explained how she developed a love for the outdoors through her adoptive parents, who had left the Jim Crow South in the 1940s and built a rural paradise north of Oakland.

Mapp said the blog came about after she noticed that she didn’t always see a lot of other African Americans enjoying the outdoors or see many representations of that in advertising. When interest in her blog began to pick up, she put out a call for more African American leaders to begin guiding outdoor trips.

“I think there are these old stereotypes of black people that black people don’t swim or camp,” Castro explained. “Outdoor Afro shows people there are other people like you who you can go outside with and feel comfortable. We say it’s like finding your tribe.”

Beky Branagan was one of the first Outdoor Afro leaders, and she’s been exploring nature with participants in the Triangle area for eight years. The Raleigh-Durham network now has more than 3,000 members.

Branagan recalled an OA trip to hike Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. One of the hikers wasn’t in the best shape and decided she would rest on a bench while the rest walked to the top. But as the group was enjoying the view from the top, strangers began telling them the woman who had stayed behind was now headed their way.

“All of the people that just happened to be climbing that day were cheering her on her way up Clingmans Dome and she made it up,” said Branagan.

 

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Rich in Surprises and Secrets, There’s a State Park Waiting for You

Across the Western United States, you’ll find them in all shapes and sizes, and often close to home, in part because President Lincoln thought everyone should have access to nature

By Peter Kujawinski

  • July 29, 2019
The sun sets at Bannack State Park in Montana.

On a cold and damp Iowa evening last October, I sat in a tent and thought about Abraham Lincoln. More precisely, I thought about Lincoln signing a minor piece of legislation deeding the Yosemite Valley to the state of California. It happened in 1864, while the Civil War raged. 

It is important because of just a few words. California was given ownership of Yosemite on the condition that the land “be held for public use, resort, and recreation.” This was the official approval of a remarkable and radical idea: Everyone should have access to nature. It led to our ecosystem of national and state parks, wilderness areas and nature preserves — all generally committed to providing this access. 

And it came at a time when President Lincoln presumably had a lot on his mind. Did he realize his signature would transform America’s relationship with nature?

That October night, I was camping in Iowa’s Waubonsie State Park, just one park among the many thousands now scattered across the United States. It was near the tail end of a yearlong mission to visit as many state parks as possible. (Final tally: 53.) This article, the second on state parks, focuses on those I visited in the western part of the country.Part 1: Parks in the Eastern U.S.

Waubonsie is a small state park in the southwestern corner of Iowa, near Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. I didn’t know anything about it, except for reviews saying it was a good place for a picnic. I figured it’d be a few lonely trees surrounded by corn. What I found truly astounded me, and emphasized what I love most about state parks: You never know what you are going to find.

In this 1,990-acre state park, I found an ancient forest on a plateau, an island of mysterious trees in the middle of a vast agricultural region. A secret in plain sight. Waubonsie, as it turns out, is the result of glaciers melting and rushing down the nearby Missouri River. Silt from these glaciers has piled up in mounds large enough to become their own landforms, here called the Loess Hills. There are only two places in the world where this topography exists: the region where I was camping, and the Yellow River valley in China.

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Second in a series in the NY Times. First one:Wherever You Are, There’s a State Park NearbyJune 5, 2019

New York City’s Largest State Park Opens up in Brooklyn

In an attempt to promote outdoor activities, NYC’s new state park introduces impressive facilities and an even better view

 01 Min Read 

Cloudless skies, a spread of sandwiches and lemonade, a friendly game of frisbee and a light read; why not trade in the overdone routine of binge-watching Netflix for a relaxing day at the park? Especially a brand new one, yet to explore. New York City’s largest state park is now open to public use, just a brisk walk away for all Brooklyn residents. Sprawling across a massive 407 acres, Shirley Chisholm state park is named after the first African-American woman ever elected to congress.  With a bayside pier and a 10-mile trail dedicated to hiking and trekking, people can participate in active exercises or just gawk at the panoramic view of the Empire State Building over their picnic spread. Additionally, the park also has waterfront access for those who want to try their hand at kayaking. 

The state park received generous funding of $20 million under the first phase of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Vital Brooklyn Initiative. The second phase will potentially feature amphitheatres for live performances, environmental education centres, and a connector Bridge linking Pennsylvania and Fountain properties. It is a part of the state’s efforts to build 34 new and improved parks, community gardens, playgrounds, and recreation centres within 10 minutes distance for Central Brooklyn residents. Public meetings to discuss the design of phase 2 will begin in the fall of 2019, which is expected to be completed in 2020 and 2021.

According to the governor, state parks are central to New York’s thriving economy as these state-of-the-art natural treasures attract millions of tourists, as well as New Yorkers for entertainment, exercise and community engagement. He added that this investment will significantly enhance the facilities of the state parks, promote outdoor activities and lift up the local economy.

London becomes world’s first ‘National Park City.’ What does that mean?

The UK capital is the the first city to sign on to a new drive to convince cities and their residents to be greener, healthier, and wilder.

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On Monday London will be officially confirmed as the world’s first National Park City. Saturday kicks off a free, eight-day festival celebrating the city’s outdoor spaces. Along with the Mayor of London, organisations and individuals will sign a London National Park City Charter demonstrating their support for making the city greener, healthier, and wilder.

Newcastle upon Tyne will also be launching its campaign for that city to become the United Kingdom’s next National Park City. Glasgow, Scotland has already started its campaign.

The National Park City Foundation (NPCF), in partnership with World Urban Parks and Salzburg Global Seminar, created the first International Charter for National Park Cities (NPC). While London is the first, NPCF is aiming to name at least 25 National Park Cities by 2025 and is already in discussion with other UK and world cities to help them gain NPC status.

The NPC idea is all about making cities greener, healthier, and wilder, says Daniel Raven-Ellison, a geographer and National Geographic explorer who originated the concept six years ago.

“What an amazing moment for London. Celebrating, honouring and recognising the biodiversity and greenness of this great city,” said Jayne Miller, Chair of World Urban Parks. It’s a challenge to cities around the world to venerate, protect, and increase the green spaces, Miller said in a statement.

“We’re pretty excited about the NPC concept at the IUCN,” says Russell Galt, Director of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Urban Alliance. “I was confused at first about it. IUCN has no category for it,” says Galt in an interview.

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Murkowski: LWCF Can Do More for Conservation and Outdoor Recreation

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired a hearing of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to review the implementation of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) program.

In her opening remarks, Murkowski noted that her 2019 lands package – the John D. Dingell Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act – contained a provision to permanently authorize LWCF’s collection and deposit functions and ensure that at least 40 percent of appropriated funding goes to the state-side program each yearPortrait of Lisa Murkowski

“Now that the collection and deposit functions of the LWCF have been permanently authorized – and we have made some important reforms – it is time to look at what has worked with the program and areas that can be improved,” Murkowski said. “Our challenge now is to think differently and more creatively about the LWCF. We need to ask what else it can accomplish for conservation and outdoor recreation in the future.” 

Lauren Imgrund, Deputy Secretary for Pennsylvania DNR and president of NASORLO, provided expert testimony on the stateside component of LWCF.

An archived video of today’s hearing can be found on the committee’s website.

Full Opening Statements and Links to Testimony 

Opening Remarks

Witness Panel 1

 

Girl Scouts Love State Parks




Division of State Parks  Indiana Department of Natural Resources
402 W. Washington St.Indianapolis, IN 46204-2748 
For immediate release: June 17, 2019 

Girl Scouts Love State Parks weekend is July 13-14

The National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) and the Girl Scouts of America (GSUSA) will partner for the inaugural Girl Scouts Love State Parks weekend on July 13 and 14.

The weekend is designed to help thousands of girls across the United States explore nature, find adventure and learn what Girl Scouts is all about. Indiana State Parks will offer many options across the state to participate.

GSUSA is committed to developing a passion for outdoor adventure, healthy risk-taking, education and environmental conservation. During this weekend, they will host a variety of events at different state parks nationwide, where girls will be able to explore the outdoors, work on badges and projects or do many other activities.

Janet Holcomb, Indiana’s First Lady was a Girl Scout and supports the GSUSA and the new weekend promotion.

“I’m always eager for any opportunity to go outside and enjoy nature, especially in Indiana’s outstanding state parks, where you can hike, bike, fish, paddle, gather around a campfire, and more,” Holcomb said. “The Girl Scouts Love State Parks weekend is a terrific way for our state’s future leaders to foster a deep appreciation of the outdoors.”

Hosting events in Indiana are:July 13
• Fort Harrison State Park: Bug Badge at 10 a.m.
• Turkey Run State Park: Geology Hike through Rocky Hollow (water permitting) at 10 a.m.
• Ouabache State Park: Bison Feeding at 10 a.m. 
• Chain O’Lakes State Park: Slime Time: Animals Who Use/Make Slime to Survive at 5 p.m. 
• McCormick’s Creek State Park: Wildlife of McCormick’s from 1-4 p.m. (presentation, hike, cave exploration, and invasive pull).
• Potato Creek State Park: Birding at Potato Creek at 2 p.m.
• Indiana Dunes State Park: Full Moon Hike at 7:30 p.m. (presentation, then hike).
• Lincoln State Park: Abe’s Neighborhood Walk and cornhusk dolls at noon.
• Patoka Lake : Archery Lessons at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2:15 p.m. (space is limited at each lesson.)
July 14
• Lincoln State Park:  Abe’s Neighborhood Walk and cornhusk dolls at noon.
• Salamonie Lake: Live Raptors at 1 p.m.
All events are local time, and are open to all Girl Scouts. Some are open to families and friends, too. Exclusive Girl Scouts Love State Parks patches and merchandise will be available for participants at the Girl Scout Shop and participating council stores.

Registration is required through Indiana’s regional Girl Scout councils for all of these events. Links to council events pages are as follows:
Northern Indiana-Michiana: girlscoutsnorthernindiana-michiana.org/en/events/event-list.html
Central Indiana: girlscoutsindiana.org/en/events/girl-scouts-love-state-parks.html
Southwest Indiana: hgirlscouts-gssi.org/en/events/event-list.html 

Learn more about these Indiana events at calendar.dnr.IN.gov. More about the national event and GSUSA is at girlscouts.org. To see all dnr news releases, go to dnr.IN.gov.-30-
Media contact: Ginger Murphy, Deputy Director, Indiana State Parks, 317-232-4143, gmurphy@dnr.IN.gov

 

Girl Scouts – US and most of the state park systems have special events scheduled this
summer

How We Pay to Play: Funding Outdoor Recreation on Public Lands in the 21st Century

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT

The recreational demands of the 21st century are bringing new challenges for public land management. This PERC Public Lands Report examines some of the primary sources of funding for outdoor recreation-related opportunities on public lands, aiming to be informative rather than claiming to be exhaustive or comprehensive. It demonstrates that by many measures, inflation-adjusted recreation-related funding is stagnant or declining despite increased attention on and demand for outdoor recreation. 

As public lands that provide outdoor recreation opportunities grow in importance, it’s worthwhile to examine how we fund and maintain those lands. Adequate funding will not in and of itself guarantee responsible stewardship of our public recreation lands. But recent trends suggest that many sources of recreation funds have either stagnated or declined in real terms, even as visitation has been increasing over the long term. An assessment of recreation-related funding sources and their trends can provide insights about different funding strategies and, ideally, help inform and improve the future of recreation on public lands.

‘All it Took was 25 Years’: Legislature Ponies Up Cash for Underfunded Texas Parks

After two decades of looting state park funding, lawmakers appropriated nearly $350 million this session, greenlit development of a new state park and gave voters a chance to maintain a long-term source.

San Solomon Springs at Balmorhea State Park.San Solomon Springs at Balmorhea State Park. FLICKR/CHRIS MCINNIS

Texas state parks have been a convenient piggy bank for the Legislature whenever money was short elsewhere, but this session they got their due. Lawmakers put more funding than ever into state parks, and additionally are giving voters a chance to approve a constitutional amendment this November to ensure a long-term source.
The amendment, passed by more than two-thirds of the House and Senate and signed by Governor Greg Abbott this weekend, is basically a fulfillment of funding that was promised in 1993. That year, lawmakers dedicated a portion of revenue from the sales tax on sporting goods to fund state parks — 94 percent of the revenue was meant for parks and the remaining 6 percent to the state’s 22 historic sites. Since then, though, legislators have consistently appropriated far less than parks’ full share, moving the money around to other parts of the budget and leaving some of the most beautiful and popular places in the state woefully underfunded. Until 2007, state parks’ slice of the sporting goods tax was capped at $32 million. Parks have received less than half of the dedicated revenue since 1993.


LEGISLATIVE BUDGET BOARD

The new constitutional amendment, which a majority of voters must approve this November, would guarantee that parks and historic sites get their share into the future. Ultimately, it’s a matter of catching up with intent from 1993.

In addition to the constitutional amendment, lawmakers ponied up funds — the full $322 million from the sporting goods tax revenue earmarked for state parks — that will be appropriated regardless of the November election. That’s about 10 times what parks were allotted in 2007, and marks the third consecutive session that parks got their full share owed under the law.

The success for state parks this session is about as good as it gets, according to George Bristol, the founder of the Texas Coalition for Conservation and former chair of the Texas State Parks Advisory Committee and Audubon Texas. Bristol has been lobbying the Legislature for the past nine sessions.

parks, enchanted rock

A long line to get into Enchanted Rock State Natural Area the morning of March 17, 2018.  EARL NOTTINGHAM/TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE

Advocates hope the Lege’s newfound appreciation for wide open spaces helps address issues caused by record visitor numbers (nearly 10 million in fiscal year 2017). Advance online reservations are just about the only assurance of getting in to the most popular parks during busy periods.

“We need more parks, and more parks close to our major metropolitan areas,” Bristol said.

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Job Opportunities – MN – Parks Management Positions

Minnesota’s State Parks and Trails management team is looking for a few good managers!  Our Division Leadership Team seats our regional managers on a level playing field with our section managers. Our big, beautiful system includes 75 state parks and recreation areas; 1,500 public water accesses; 25 state trails/35 water trails; and tens-of-thousands of miles of system and grant-in-aid snowmobile, cross-country ski and off-highway vehicle trails.  We are looking for managers who are innovators, creative problem solvers, skilled operational supervisors, and multi-culturally competent.

Please note that the closing date is June 26, and we are asking for 3, 300-word write-ups on key aspects of the regional manager positions. If you have any questions, please contact Deputy Director Phil Leversedge at phil.leversedge@state.mn.us.

Click here to go to the Minnesota careers website. Or, click on the position number below to go directly to a particular posting.

Parks & Trails Central Region Manager – 33077

Agency: Natural Resources Dept | Location: St. Paul | Job Family: Management Careers | Posted Date: 05/30/2019

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Parks & Trails Northwest Region Manager – 33179

Agency: Natural Resources Dept | Location: Bemidji | Job Family: Management Careers | Posted Date: 05/30/2019

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Parks & Trails Southern Region Manager – 33163

Agency: Natural Resources Dept | Location: New Ulm | Job Family: Management Careers | Posted Date: 05/30/2019

Assistant Regional Manager- State Prog Admin Manager – 33131

Agency: Natural Resources Dept | Location: St. Paul | Job Family: Management Careers | Posted Date: 05/30/2019