National Discussion: Maintenance Backlog of NPS, Video




Department of the Interior Press Release:  National Parks Infrastructure Discussion   here

Maintenance Backlog, National Parks:  A Love Story  video  

New Cottages and $55 mil in Bond Funds for WV State Parks

Three new cottages were opened July 16 at Chief Logan State Park in West Virginia.  Construction dollars came from gas and oil bonus funds directed to State Parks.  More detail on cottages here.  Additional projects are scheduled to begin as funds become available.


Also, on July 18, the RFP was went out to release $55M in bonds for repairs and improvements to West Virginia State Parks.  Most of the funds will be used to address  infrastructure repairs, lodge and cabin upgrades and other deferred maintenance needs.   

State Parks (WV) look to cater to top outdoor activities

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The top man with the West Virginia State Parks told lawmakers Tuesday the Mountain State is a treasure for adventure seekers and the parks are trying to do more to accommodate those looking for adventure activities.

Sam England detailed a list of the top ten outdoor pursuits ranked by the amount of money spent to pursue them nationally during an appearance Tuesday before a legislative interim committee. The top listing was trail sports, which includes hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, and horseback riding. The category also included rappelling and bouldering as well as trail running.

Full story 


Camping at Audra State Park in Barbour County, WV


The 50 Governors Have Proclaimed June as Great Outdoors Month

All 50 governors have now proclaimed June Great Outdoors Month!

Visit to see photos and download PDFs of every state’s celebration of America’s great outdoors.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is joining the recognition of outdoor recreation on America’s public lands, releasing a new video celebrating recreation’s return and emphasizing the need for modernization of infrastructure.  Watch, share and comment on the video via YouTube, Facebookand twitter.

Governor, Officials Push State Park Use (Vermont)


Vermont Gov. Phil Scott declared June Great Outdoors Month last week at Elmore State Park.

Governor Phil Scott came back to his sometime childhood home on the shores of Lake Elmore last Thursday to encourage more people to get outside and take advantage of what is perhaps Vermont’s most valuable resource: itself.

“We have a shared respect and appreciation for our landscape and our great Vermont outdoors,” Scott said during a press conference in Elmore State Park. “We understand that our forests, fields, mountains, lakes and rivers provide enjoyment and economic benefit to our state, our residents, as well as our visitors here.”

Scott said Vermont has 850,000 acres of public land available for all manner of outdoor recreation, and 8,000 miles of trails.

“That’s equal to walking to California and back with enough left over to hike the entire Appalachian Trail,” he said.

Thursday’s press conference served a couple of purposes — actually, three, as reporters from several Vermont media outlets pressed the governor on a potential government shutdown.

In a somewhat drizzly day that has proven the anomaly over the past month, Scott proclaimed the month of June, 2018 as Great Outdoors Month. The proclamation, in part, reads, “Our kids today spend an average of 10 hours a day in front of a screen and outdoor activity is touted by many leading health organizations as a remedy for the adverse effects caused by our increasing inactivity.”

The question is how to get more people outside, and Scott was joined by Vermont State Parks director Craig Whipple and Julie Moore, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. Whipple quipped that sometimes it takes a little “gimmick” to encourage people to get outdoors.

Some of those include making parks passes available at libraries all over the state — you check them out the same way you would a book or a DVD — or offering doctors special prescription pads that they can fill out and give to patients, giving them a free day pass.

Noting that one of the biggest barriers to camping is buying all the gear, the parks department is also launching a “first time happy camper” program that supplies all the necessary gear and a day pass to one of five parks in the pilot program: Bomoseen, Button Bay, Grand Isle, Stillwater and Woodford.

Moore used the governor’s press conference to talk about the new Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge, a scavenger hunt of sorts where participants score points for all manner of outdoor activity.

Most activities score 5 or 10 points. Reach 250 points and you get a day pass good for any state park for the rest of 2018 and all of 2019.

“Literally, we have a little something for everybody, whether it’s camping, swimming, hiking, fishing, boating or picnicking, all of these opportunities are available across Vermont’s state parks,” Moore said.

This being the governor’s weekly press conference, most journalists in attendance were there to press Scott on one issue: does the administration have a contingency plan if he and lawmakers cannot come to an agreement on a statewide budget and tax plan by the end of this month?

The next fiscal year begins July 1, and many government agencies won’t be able to operate without a budget in place. That includes the state parks.

Scott refused to be pinned down, saying he is confident the two sides will reach an agreement, but stopping short of saying he would sign a budget or announce contingency plans.

The News & Citizen had a question more related to the venue and the previous outdoors initiatives: how is the funding for the cleaning of rivers and lakes, including ones in the very state parks being touted?

Lake Elmore, for one, is not in danger of becoming unusable, said Scott.

Moore said the state has allocated 75 percent more money for clean water initiatives than the previous two fiscal years. She added state parks employees are also going to assess the health of the waterways in their parks.

More information on the Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge:


America’s State Parks 2018 Photo Contest


The National Association of State Park Directors Announces Launch of America’s State Parks 2018 Photo Contest
Packed with Prizes Valued at $4,500, the Photo Contest That Celebrates State Parks is Now Open for Submissions

Raleigh, NC – June 4, 2018 – Armed with a mission to promote and advance the state park systems of America, the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD), today announced the launch of America’s State Parks 2018 photo contest. The contest, which is open to residents of the U.S. age 18 and over, provides an opportunity to visually share experiences captured at the nation’s state parks over the last year1. The contest returns for a second year after receiving more than 8,000 qualified photo submissions and 105,000 website engagements during its inaugural 2-month run in 2017.

“The outdoor recreation community has been built on the concept of sharing and America’s State Parks photo contest perfectly aligns with that,” said Lewis Ledford, executive director at National Association of State Park Directors. “NASPD looks forward to continuing to offer a forum in which the community can easily connect with each other and share the experiences our state parks have afforded them.”

With focus on highlighting real-life moments and celebrating the marvelous essence of the country’s public lands, the contest encourages amateur photographers to submit photos taken at a state park within the five categories of camping, wildlife, activities, friends & family, and scenic & seasons. Qualifying submissions will be judged on originality, artistic composition, technical quality, and effectiveness of the image in showcasing the best of America’s State Parks.

The contest’s grand prize winner will be awarded a package valued at $2,000, including a 7-day RV rental from Mighway, an innovative RV sharing platform dedicated to connecting RV owners with travelers. Winners will also be selected from each of the contest’s five categories and will each receive a $500 REI gift card. From now until July 31, 2018, interested participants can submit their entries on the official parks photo contest website.

To ensure the delivery of modern, convenient online experiences to its contest entrants, NASPD engaged its trusted partner, AspiraTM, to manage the operations and promotion for the contest. Aspira, seasoned in providing technology and marketing services to park and conservation agencies across North America, will utilize its popular online camping community,, to increase awareness of America’s State Parks photo contest.

“We’re thrilled to team up with Aspira and Mighway to deliver a strong, convenient, and rewarding experience to America’s State Parks photo contest participants and winners,” continued Ledford. “Together, we look forward to receiving this year’s submissions and with it, celebrating the nation’s state parks.”

Winners of the contest will be announced in September during the National Association of State Park Directors Conference.


The National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) is devoted to helping state park systems effectively manage and administer their state park system. 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. For more information, visit

About Aspira

Aspira provides connected experiences for the outdoor recreation industry. Its comprehensive suite of reservation and licensing technology and service solutions support federal, state, provincial, and local government park, campground, and conservation agencies, conveniently connecting them with outdoor adventure seekers from around the world. Aspira is headquartered in Dallas, TX with nine offices worldwide. For more information,

About Mighway

Labeled the ‘Airbnb’ of RVs, Mighway is an innovative RV sharing platform, raising the bar in service and consumer protection, and connecting RV owners with travelers. While other RV sharing platforms serve more as booking engines, Mighway assists travelers throughout the road trip and often beyond. More than that, Mighway changes the game by offering the option to manage everything for owners as well. For more information, visit

Complete eligibility rules are available at:

Great Outdoors Proclamations by President and 50 Governors

Great Outdoors Month® 2017 Proclamations by the President and the Governors.
See the 2017 Presidential Proclamation here.

Special thanks to the American Recreation Coalition for their work to secure and make available these proclamations.  More info about ARC click here.

Ethan Tyler New Parks Director in Alaska


Ethan Tyler to serve as new Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation director

(Anchorage, AK) – Natural Resources Commissioner Andy Mack announced today that Ethan Tyler will join the Department of Natural Resources as director of the Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation on July 17.

Tyler has 17 years of private sector and non-profit experience in Alaska, largely in tourism, outdoor recreation and economic development. He is moving to DNR from his current position as the Economic Development Manager for the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development where he supervises a variety of statewide programs including the Made in Alaska program.

“A key objective for the State of Alaska is sustaining and protecting our park system by making it less reliant on general funds for its operations,” Mack said. “Ethan’s skills and experience make him a natural fit to carry on this important work.”

“I look forward to joining the DNR team and working cooperatively with fellow Alaskans to manage the nation’s largest and best state park system, and increase opportunities for outdoor recreation in our state,” Tyler said.

Tyler began his Alaska career at the Alyeska Resort in 2000. He joined CIRI Alaska Tourism Corp. four years later as a sales manager, and went on to work in management positions at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and the Alaska Community Foundation. From 2009 to 2013, he owned a consulting business that provided communications, sales, marketing and other services to Alaska’s visitor industry.

Tyler has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado. He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys ski instructing, backcountry skiing, as well as biking, hiking, surfing, and time spent with family.

CONTACT: Elizabeth Bluemink, 269-8434, ###

Bill Frist to Congress: Stand up for nature. Don’t starve EPA and conservation programs.

I worry about the health of our people, our natural resources and our government institutions. Investing in nature would put us on a stronger path.

Earlier this month, my wife Tracy and I explored on horseback for three days the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area — a gem of the national park system in east Tennessee. As we rode the trails, experiencing the gently flowing creeks, the quiet wooded paths, the inspiring sounds of birds and kids playing along the way, we delightfully soaked up the present, reflected fondly on the past and what it took to make our experience possible, but also worried about the future.

As a doctor and scientist, I speak and write often on the well-established connection between the physical, mental and emotional health of people and their natural environment. As a former congressional legislator, I witnessed the synergistic connection between responsible, smart government and cooperative, forward-leaning partnerships that help people from all walks of life thrive and live happier and more fulfilling lives.

But right now, I worry about the health of our people, our natural resources and our government institutions. Getting back to basics for things we all need — healthy land, clean air and water — would be a good start to putting us and our nation on a stronger path. To do that, we need Congress and the administration to fully support our diverse public lands and investments in our natural resources through effective conservation and science programs.

When I served in the Senate, I saw firsthand how healthy lands and waters support our businesses and economies.

More than 24 million jobs are tied to our land — 9.3% of total U.S. employment. More than 7 million of us are employed in outdoor recreation; 17 million of us have agricultural jobs. Forests and fisheries account for another 4.8 million jobs. Even beyond that, natural infrastructure such as reefs, dunes, marshes, floodplains and forests help protect our communities from flooding and other natural disasters.

As Congress shapes the nation’s budget, funding conservation and science programs is essential to sustain the health of our lands and waters. Many of these programs also stretch limited taxpayer dollars through partnerships with farmers, ranchers, companies and communities across the United States.

We should encourage those who represent us in Congress to stand up for nature so nature can do its job sustaining and protecting us. It’s a concept lawmakers from both parties can support. For example:

  • The Land and Water Conservation Fund benefits every state — and nearly every county — across the nation, conserving community parks, local ball fields, public trails and critical water supplies. The program provides states the ability to target funding toward local priorities and expands the impact of federal dollars through millions more in matching public and private fund
  • The Regional Conservation Partnership Program, created under the Farm Bill to empower communities and support public-private partnerships to find local solutions to tough natural resource challenges, has mobilized more than 2,000 conservation partners who themselves have committed $1.4 billion in financial and technical assistance to on-the-ground projects — nearly two times the amount provided by the program’s federal funds
  • Right now, the Environmental Protection Agency faces potentially steep cuts, which would impact regional efforts such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Since its inception in 2010, the Initiative has funded hundreds of projects to combat invasive species like Asian carp, clean up toxic chemicals, and protect and restore wildlife habitat across the region. The program has also been good for the economy, bringing approximately $2 in economic return for every restoration dollar invested, according to a Brookings Institution report

Congress has the power to support these and other cost-effective programs, as well as the public lands that provide so much to all of us.

Our three-day get away on horseback reminded us how grateful we are to our tradition of bipartisan support for conserving America’s natural resources. Investing in nature is a wise investment in the health and well-being of our nation and the American people. It is a worthy and critical investment I hope Congress will support.

Republican Bill Frist of Tennessee, a heart transplant surgeon and a former Senate majority leader, serves on the Board of Directors of The Nature Conservancy.