Platforms on Conservation and Natural Resources;

Given the extensive coverage of the recent Democratic and Republican national conventions, below are positions on conservation and natural resources that may be of interest.

A) Clinton Campaign “Fact Sheet” on Conservation

Hillary Clinton’s Plan for Conservation and Collaborative Stewardship of America’s Great Outdoors

B) GOP Platform on America’s Natural Resources

America’s Natural Resources

WA – Embrace Your Nature

Here’s the link for the new branded TV commercial airing now about Washington State Parks:   Embrace Your Nature


IL – First ever memorial for veterans lost to PTSD coming to Channahon

Memorial expected to open in November at Channahon State Park

Published: Monday, July 25, 2016 10:51 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 26, 2016 6:53 a.m. CDT

CHANNAHON – Channahon State Park will be home to a one-of-a-kind memorial for military veterans who have lost their battles with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Forgotten Warrior Memorial Wall will be a tribute to all veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces and have been afflicted with PTSD and sacrificed their lives beyond the limits of active duty. The memorial, expected to open in November, was funded through private donations to Chicago-based nonprofit K9s For Veteran Warriors.

K9s For Veteran Warriors CEO Michael Tellerino said it’s proper to have memorials for veterans who lost their lives in battle; however, currently no memorials exist for the countless veterans who have taken their own lives while fighting another war at home – PTSD.

“How can we honor them for paying the ultimate price?” Tellerino said. “They come home with wounds you can’t see. People don’t understand how serious this is.”

One statistic Tellerino cited suggests about 22 veterans commit suicide each day, but that’s just based on veterans who have registered for benefits. He said the real number is between 28 and 32 a day.

“That’s not acceptable,” he said. “We wanted to acknowledge that sons, daughters, brothers and sisters have not died in vain. We hope this will give some healing to their families and raise public awareness.”

The memorial, which will cost more than $80,000, will be constructed in an existing circular turnaround area of the park and be comprised largely of granite. Tellerino initially wanted to etch the names of each veteran lost to PTSD into the memorial, but said it would be an exhaustive process to get every name from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Instead, families will have individual bricks etched with their loved ones’ names on a volunteer basis. He said that since announcing the memorial last week, he received a call from a woman in tears.

“She was so excited about doing this,” he said. “It’s so long overdue for these guys.”

The organization chose Channahon because it has easy access from the Chicago metropolitan area and the specific spot in the park is perfect for what the architects of the project have designed.

The nonprofit also wanted the memorial to be relatively close to Marseilles, which is home to the Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial along the Illinois River.

Illinois State Parks and Recreation and state legislators have already signed off on the project, he said.

Full Article->

AR – 9-Year-Old Girl Finds Huge White Diamond At Park

 Grace Houston holding her prized 1.53 carat white diamond.

July 26, 2016

A Missouri girl found a 1.53 carat white diamond while wet sifting with her grandmother.

Grace Houston, 9, was on a mission to find a diamond on July 23, and she did just that.

According to Betty Coors, who is a Park Interpreter at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Grace found a 1.53 carat white diamond, KTHV reported.

It all started when Grace’s family planned a surprise trip to Crater of Diamonds State Park about six months ago.

The young girl’s love for geology was quickly rewarded, as she stumbled upon a valuable white diamond.

When asked if she would turn the diamond into a necklace or save it for an engagement ring when she got older, Grace said it was out of the question.

“No! I would never put such a rare and special and precious thing into an expensive piece of jewelry,” Grace said, notes WGRZ.

Grace said she intends to keep the diamond in its natural state.

MO – Echo Bluff State Park opens July 30

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    The park is named for Echo Bluff, a concave bluff that towers over Sinking Creek.
    By Tom Uhlenbrock, Missouri State Parks
    Posted Jul. 25, 2016 at 7:25 PM

    The new Echo Bluff State Park opens on Saturday, July 30, and offers the opportunity to explore all the scenic wonders of the Missouri Ozarks.

    Gov. Jay Nixon will welcome visitors with remarks at 10 a.m., and is familiar with the area. His mother was a counselor at the old Camp Zoe, a children’s summer camp that operated in the secluded valley from 1929 to the 1980s.

    The picturesque spot along Sinking Creek, which runs below the concave bluff that is the park’s namesake on its way to the Current River, has been drawing visitors for decades, but now is open to the public as Missouri’s 88th state park.

    Nixon said visitors to the park will find “an immense treasure in Echo Bluff that will be preserved for generations to come.”

    The park is off Highway 19, about halfway between Salem and Eminence. It is in the heart of the Ozarks, with conservation areas, national forest and the Ozark National Scenic Riverways nearby. The latter is a national park that preserves the Current and Jacks Fork rivers, two of America’s premier float streams.

    Bill Bryan, director of Missouri State Parks, said Echo Bluff is the perfect spot for a family vacation with Rocky Falls, Alley Spring Mill, Blue Spring and Peck Ranch Conservation Area among the many destinations within an hour’s drive of the park.

    “They will find a peaceful escape where they can have as big an Ozark adventure as they want to make,” Bryan said. “This is a base camp for the unchartered Ozarks.

    “Families and couples will have a great place to stay while they explore Rocky Falls, Peck Ranch, the mills and everything that up to now has been hard to reach.”

    The Ozarks, with its bounty of spring-fed rivers, has long been a popular spot for floating on summer weekends. Echo Bluff, which will be open year round, encourages visitors to enjoy the other seasons, especially spring, when the redbuds and dogwoods are blooming, and fall, when the forests glow in autumn colors.

    “Echo Bluff was designed and built for people to enjoy the Ozarks every day of the year,” Bryan said. “Our guests will find that there’s a lot more to see and do than simply float the Current on a Saturday in July.”

    Full article->

ND – North Dakota State Parks Busier Than Years Past


North Dakota State Parks are seeing a lot of traffic, both in park visits and overnight campers.
Ben Smith reports on the reason why park rangers are so busy.

It’s a busy year for North Dakota state parks.
Park Rangers say people are coming from all over the country.
A main driving force is the low cost for gas..
“You can go a lot further with two dollars versus four dollars,” says Karen and David Hicks, Cross Ranch State Park Campers
Karen and David Hicks have done a lot traveling over the last few years, recently they were in Florida with a bunch of other campers.
“To get reservations, you have to schedule almost 12 months out, it’s getting to be that way all across the country…I think things are picking up on the travel part of this,” says Hicks
They’re currently staying at Cross Ranch State park which this year, has seen a lot of business.
“We have a ton of campers coming in, using our new sites, we’re actually already 582 camper spots ahead from last year at this time,” says Char Binstock, Cross Ranch State Park
She says it’s because Cross Ranch has newly-upgraded camping sites, as well as a new yurt.
Cross Ranch isn’t alone, State Parks across North Dakota are seeing more business.
Compared to 2015 which was a record-setting year, the amount of park visits and overnight campers are up about 5 percent.
To explain that, we did have a very mild spring.   We had a couple of months where we had a lot of visitation where you don’t normally see that.  March early April usually the snow and rains, people aren’t out in the parks but this year we had a lot of people out camping already by that time.  This year we didn’t have that.
He also credits the special events the department puts on for drawing in more crowds.
Weixel says North Dakota state parks are seeing over a million visitors every year.

North Dakota’s National Parks have also been busier.
As of June, Theodore Roosevelt National Park has seen a 30% increase in visitors compared to last year.

MA – Watertown Park Opens With Sensory Garden for Visually Impaired


The Watertown Riverfront Park and Braille Trail is part of an initiative to increase recreational opportunities for people of all abilities.

WATERTOWN, MA – The Watertown Riverfront Park and Braille Trail held its grand opening Thursday, as part of the governor’s initiative to increase access to the state park system.

The park was designed by Sasaki Associates and Chester Engineers, who were supervised by the Department of Conservation and Recreation with the assistance of Perkins School for the Blind, and connects the community to the waterfront.
The Braille Trail is a quarter-mile loop within the park that wraps around a sensory garden, incorporating elements that emphasize touch, hearing and smell. The garden includes benches, stone walls, a canoe-like Mishoon boat and a musical marimba bench designed to look like a xylophone, where visitors can play music through the wooden slats.

The Braille Trail also has a guide wire to assist visitors with impaired vision. Different types of beads are placed along the wire to indicate the location of both Braille panels and seating; there are ten interpretive features along the trail written on granite posts in both English and Braille.

“Increasing access to the Commonwealth’s natural, cultural and recreational resources for people of all abilities to enjoy remains a high priority of our administration,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a press release prior to the park’s opening. “I am excited for the opening of the Watertown Riverfront Park and Braille Trail, where visitors can appreciate the seamless blending of the park’s features with the natural surroundings for years to come.”

Full article->


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While America’s 59 national parks may get all the glory and the Ken Burns documentaries, nearly three times as many people visit the country’s 10,234 state park areas each year. Spanning a total of more than 18 million acres across the US, America’s state parks take up the equivalent land area of 13.6 million football fields — or roughly the size of South Carolina.

So yeah, there’s kind of a lot to explore. To help us narrow down a list of the cream of the crop, we consulted locals throughout the country to give us their top picks of their favorite state parks. Behold, our glorious unveiling of America’s top 25.

Thillist’s 25 State Parks to Visit

WA – New Old Time Chautauqua, State Parks team up to host summer events

A very interesting summer interpretive program happening in Washington!

Events take place in seven state parks and nearby communities

OLYMPIA – June 3, 2016– The New Old Time Chautauqua (NOTC), America’s only traveling or circuit Chautauqua, is joining forces with Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission for a 2016 summer tour of seven state parks and nearby communities.Chautauquas were based on the idea that learning continued throughout life. The Chautauqua Movement began in 1874, bringing a mix of education and entertainment to communities throughout the nation. When a Chautauqua came to town, all normal activity stopped as citizens dedicated a week of their lives to learn, be entertained and join with their community.

“The idea of the Chautauqua-Parks partnership is to renew ties and to foster goodwill between the towns and their local state parks,” said Paul Magid, founding member of the NOTC and The Flying Karamazov Brothers. “Chautauquas and Washington Parks share common goals: to promote community through education and experience by being a catalyst for cultural and creative exchange surrounded by the beauty of nature.”

“Chautauquas were always held in an idyllic setting—among the trees, by a shore, or in a park—which is why this partnership is such a natural fit,” said Debbie Fant, Coordinator for the State Parks Folk & Traditional Arts Program. “And each park on the tour can tell its own story in workshops led by local experts.”

Each Chautauqua takes place over several days, with events occurring one day in the nearby town and another day in the state park. Each Chautauqua includes entertaining and educational workshops in parks and towns, a community potluck in each state park, live music, speakers and a grand parade—community participation encouraged—through the town. Each Chautauqua comes to a close with a family-friendly finale featuring Broadway stars, a big band, aerialists, comedians, jugglers and more.

Presss release

More on Chautauqua

WXYZ Editorial: Celebrate July 4th Parks Fireworks Safely

WXYZ Detroit – How about celebrating this July 4th weekend in one of America’s state or national parks?  Here in Michigan, you are never more than 30 minutes from a Michigan state park, campground or trail.  From Belle Isle to Fort Wilkins, the parks will kick off this summer holiday with a host of activities.  Michigan has dozens to choose from and your state recreation passport will get you in any of them.   It will also help to maintain and preserve the quality of our parks.

We also encourage you to explore and enjoy our national parks.  In August, our National Park Service turns 100!  This centennial salute is about the past and the future!  There are plenty of opportunities to learn and have fun inside the 407 national parks.  That includes  Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore and the 10-thousand square miles of the MotorCities National Heritage area.  Both attract millions of tourists and billions of economic benefits.

But wherever you choose to celebrate July 4th, we urge you to practice fireworks safety!  These colorful displays have become a tradition and festive part of marking America’s independence.  Experts predict backyard fireworks will hit an all-time high this year.  But to be safe, go to our web site for a list of  very important safety tips.

And if you want a choice, we’ve posted the state parks that will have fireworks and parks that are fireworks-free on July 4th.


Happy Birthday, America!  There’s much to celebrate!