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.

California Deserts In ‘Super Bloom’ Thanks To A Wet Winter

People are scattered throughout the hills and valleys of Anza-Borrego, Califonia’s largest state park, taking in the beauty of a rare “super bloom” of wild flowers.

NIna Gregory/NPR

In some parts of the country, cold weather is threatening crops. Meanwhile, California has been so unseasonably wet that its deserts are experiencing what’s called a “super bloom.” After years of drought, the normally arid desert is lush.

“It just looks like a sea of flowers,” says Janet Gordon, a geologist from Los Angeles.

Visitors have flocked from as far as Asia and Africa to see the rare floral bloom in the California desert.

“You got purple, red, yellows and blues,” adds Joe Sheidness, visiting from San Diego.

“It’s fantastic,” says Dennis Brian, from Reno, Nev., who says he was a flower child in the 1960s. “You don’t see this very often. The little flowers look so delicate, but yet they’re prolific. They’re everywhere.”

Full article …


Nina Gregory/NPR

‘Bark ranger’ helps park rangers keep animals and people safe

Black-and-white dog overlooking bighorn sheep in mountain meadow (NPS/A.W. Biel)
Gracie the “bark ranger” surveys her territory. (NPS/A.W. Biel)

Gracie is a 2-year-old border collie with a mission. She is Glacier National Park’s first “bark ranger” — a skilled herder, she keeps mountain goats and bighorn sheep away from park visitors.

Gracie also helps rangers teach visitors good park manners. Getting too close to wildlife to take selfies isn’t a good idea for animals or humans, for example. And trying to touch the wildlife isn’t smart either. Both are problems in national parks.

Full Story>>

STIHL Inc. Supports State Park Director’s Leadership School’s 10th Anniversary


America’s State Parks have been one of our nation’s natural treasures for more than 100 years, and that’s why, here at STIHL, we continue to support the men and women who attend the National Association of State Park Director’s (NASPD) Leadership School. This year, we continued to provide student scholarships to the next generation of park professionals and remained the exclusive outdoor power equipment sponsor of the NASPD’s annual training program.

This year marks the Leadership School’s 10th year of providing park personnel with the education, training, networks, and tools to prepare themselves, and their teams, to take on larger responsibilities in their park systems. “The partnership with STIHL Inc., who’s sponsorship has provided opportunities for those, where out of state travel restrictions would have otherwise limited participation, has been vital to its broad success,” said Lewis Ledford, school director and executive director of NASPD.

Over the past decade, more than 400 senior park leaders, from 44 states, have graduated from the program; while participation and enrollment continue to grow. Each student goes through a two-year training program which includes online education courses and hands-on training at the Oglebay Resort and Conference Center in Wheeling, W. Va. The leadership program allows experienced park managers and students to interact, share experiences, and learn about a variety of topics, including state park planning, calculating budgets and technology trends in parks. The combination of the students’ passion and the park directors, who volunteer their time to teach, makes this leadership school both a unique and exciting program. Here at STIHL, knowing our company’s contributions, as a sponsor and a scholarship contributor, is both gratifying and rewarding for all of us.

Corporate Communications Manager Roger Phelps with the 2017 STIHL Inc Scholarship Recipients






We would like to congratulate this year’s scholarship recipients:

  • Carmino Paliotta Jr., Rhode Island
  • Micheal Mahoney, Rhode Island
  • Kendra Wallis, Missouri
  • Melissa Bueker, Missouri
  • Lesley Porter, Vermont
  • Amy Grout, Montana
  • David Bennetts, Montana
  • Adam Morris, Massachusetts
  • Erik Otto, Missouri

Local and State Park Groups Congratulate New Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke

Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 5.14.50 PMrsz_1logo-11




Media Contact:
Heather Williams                                                                                                              Lewis Ledford
703.858.4743                                                                                                                        919.218.9222                                                                                                  


Local and State Park Groups Congratulate New Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke

NRPA and NASPD pledge support to permanently authorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund and better connect youth to the outdoors

For Immediate Release

Ashburn, Va. (March 1, 2017) — The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) congratulate Ryan Zinke on his Senate confirmation to serve as the new Secretary of the Interior and applaud his continued support for permanently authorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). NRPA and NASPD also recognize U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) for highlighting the significance of LWCF as it relates to supporting outdoor recreation in local communities and city parks as part of his exchange with then nominee Zinke during January’s confirmation hearing. Both men agree on the importance of connecting youth to the great outdoors and teaching them the value of public lands, which NRPA and NASPD fully support.

“Millions of people utilize local parks every day and I commend Sec. Zinke for recognizing the need to protect these spaces — especially for future generations,” said Barbara Tulipane, NRPA President and CEO. “Preservation of our public lands is a top priority. Now is the time for others to follow suit.”

“The need to preserve access to our nation’s public lands has never been greater,” said Lewis Ledford, NASPD Executive Director. “State park visitation numbers are at an all-time high and with Sec. Zinke’s support to permanently authorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund we can ensure the accessibility and economic impact of our state parks for generations to come.”

During his confirmation hearing, Zinke vowed to work in partnership with local communities and states on issues relating to the U.S. Department of Interior and its agencies like the National Park Service. NRPA and NASPD look forward to working with the department, as well, on preserving access to public lands through LWCF and other related conservation and outdoor recreation initiatives.

A recent poll conducted by NRPA reaffirms the fact that Americans are passionate about the preservation of public lands, such as local, state and national parks. Eighty-two percent of Americans polled say it’s important to preserve public lands, including parks, recreation areas, forests, conservation areas, wildlife refuges, etc. This includes 62 percent of Americans who say it is either “very” or “extremely” important to protect open space.

To learn more about NRPA, visit

To learn more about NASPD, visit


About The National Recreation and Park Association
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of more than 52,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit

About The National Association of State Park Directors
The National Association of State Park Directors promotes and advocates for the state park systems across America in providing for conservation and management of natural and cultural resources, quality outdoor recreation experiences, connecting children and families to nature and the outdoors, and more. With more than 10,200 park areas and visitation of 760 million annually, the economic impact to local communities is estimated to exceed $20 billion each year. America’s State Parks is an alliance of state park systems in all 50 states.

CA State Parks Bring Live Field Trips into Classroom Virtually


In order to provide unique, hands-on learning experiences for children, California State Parks has been working to expand its distance learning program, PORTS(Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Schools).

PORTS is a collaboration with innovative ed tech companies to provide one-of-a-kind learning experiences for teachers and students. For instance, in a partnership with Belkin Education, a networking and accessories company, PORTS is offering real-time virtual field trips in 10 California state parks, conducted by state park rangers. Units of study include kelp forests, redwood ecology, monarch butterfly migration and historical subjects like the Gold Rush.

Full story >>