(RALEIGH, N.C.) – A national organization dedicated to supporting and promoting state parks has recognized distinguished people, projects, and programs across the country for extraordinary achievements in managing state park systems. The awards were presented at the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) annual conference “Relevance & Essential Service in America’s State Parks,” December 9-10, 2020. The conference of parks and recreation professionals was held virtually this year to share best practices in park management.
NASPD works to promote and advance America’s State Parks for their significance and contributions to the nation’s environment, heritage, health, and economy. The annual conference highlights best practices and programs from around the country, accepts nominations from all states for recognition in several categories.
The NASPD’s President’s awards go to persons or organizations, such as “Friends Organizations” external to the state park system who have made major contributions to state park excellence. This year’s President’s Award highlighted four categories for advancing the goals of a specific park system. These categories include Local, Statewide, Corporate Partner, and Individual.
The Statewide Category is given to an organization or individual that has significantly impacted a state park system that has improved quality of life, sustainable resource protection, and enhanced the state park experience.
This award was presented to Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation for the construction of Arkansas State Parks Monument Trails and the development of a trail system highlighting unique resources and locations while demonstrating sustainable construction of multi-use trails.
Monument Trails are world-class mountain biking destinations that showcase the natural iconic beauty of the parks they are within while exemplifying the highest quality in craftsmanship, innovation, and sustainability. These shared-use trails offer endearing outdoor experiences to trail riders, runners, and hikers of all skill levels, connecting them to a sense of place and history while providing a modern approach with visually unexpected architectural features and art. Monument Trails promise a unique adventure for park guests and are aimed to be a source of pride and rediscovery for local communities.
Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area, Mount Nebo State Park, and Devil’s Den State Park all have Monument Trails. They are the result of the generosity of the Walton Family Foundation in collaboration with Arkansas Parks & Recreation Foundation and Arkansas State Parks.No park system could be successful without the dedication of our park partners. Whether individuals, foundations, or groups, park leaders constantly work alongside others who share the same passion for America’s state parks. They fight alongside park teams to improve the quality of life in the state’s communities while protecting cultural and natural environments. Through passion and commitment, the accomplishments in the park field are seldom achieved without the activists who share the zeal for open spaces, trails, historic sites, parks, or any of a hundred other causes.
“America’s state parks and the people who visit them are the prime beneficiaries of the outstanding contributions from these organizations and individuals,” Lewis Ledford, NASPD executive director, said. “Taking just a few moments to recognize and thank them for their efforts is the least we can do when evaluating all they have done to improve the quality of life and recreational opportunities in their communities.”
“Though the pandemic limited our annual in-person conference, the virtual conference was an important way to reflect on the experiences and challenges of an especially difficult year and making plans for 2021 to continue providing outdoor recreational opportunities to the more than 813 million annual visitors to the state parks across the country,” Ledford added.
The mission of the National Association of State Park Directors 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.
The National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) is devoted to helping state park systems effectively manage and administer their state park system.
The Association is composed of fifty state park directors, plus territories of the United States of America, including our newest member, Puerto Rico that has full membership privileges in the organization. The Association has also established memorandums of understanding (MOU’s) with what is referred to as Associates and Affiliates that share common goals. Honorary membership in the Association may also be conferred on any former member that has served at least three years as a state park director.
About Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation
Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing parks and recreational opportunities throughout Arkansas. Outdoor recreation is a way of life in Arkansas, and the Foundation was established to support, protect, enhance, and add value to the places that provide exceptional recreational experiences across the Natural State. The spirit of the organization is about improving our quality of life while paying tribute to the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which laid the groundwork for the modern tenets of conservation.
About Arkansas State Parks
Arkansas State Parks is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism. Arkansas state parks and museums cover 54,400 acres of forest, wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation facilities, and unique historic and cultural resources. The system includes 1,100 buildings (including 183 historic structures), six National Historic Landmarks, a National Natural Landmark, 16 sites on the National Register of Historic Places, and War Memorial Stadium.
The state parks have 1,800 campsites, 1,050 picnic sites, 208 cabins, five lodges, and 415 miles of trails. Eight million visitors annually come from all regions of the country. Park staffs provide over 42,000 education programs, activities, and special events to more than 700,000 participants each year.
Established in 1923, Arkansas State Parks preserve special places for future generations, provide quality recreation and education opportunities, enhance the state’s economy through tourism, and provide leadership in resource conservation. Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and visit ArkansasStateParks.com and ArkansasStateParks.com/media to learn more about everything we have to offer.