Arkansas State Parks Enters Agreement with AmeriCorps, Engage Arkansas, and Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation

Arkansas State Parks Enters Agreement with AmeriCorps, Engage Arkansas, and Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation

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LITTLE ROCK — Secretary Shea Lewis was joined by leaders for AmeriCorpsEngage Arkansas, and the Arkansas Parks & Recreation Foundation gathered at Pinnacle Mountain State Park on March 11 for the official signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding designed to create a framework for increased conservation programs and environmental activities in Arkansas.

The signing event took place during AmeriCorps Week, March 10-16. The annual celebration recognizes the more than 1.2 million Americans who have chosen to serve their country through AmeriCorps programs as well as the thousands of AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers.

The State Parks of Arkansas date back to 1907, when Fort Smith Lumber Company officials toured Petit Jean Mountain in the Arkansas River Valley. Impressed by the mountain’s beauty, they sought to protect it, ultimately leading to the passage of Act 276 of 1923, creating Arkansas State Parks. Now, more than 100 years later, this continuing partnership will advance the shared conservation priorities of key partners from AmeriCorps and Arkansas.

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The state of Arkansas, with knowledge of its needs, priorities, and existing efforts in conservation, will leverage AmeriCorps NCCC’s ability to deploy teams quickly, frequently, and effectively. Since 2018, twelve AmeriCorps NCCC teams have served with Arkansas State Parks. This agreement demonstrates a commitment to prioritize and increase projects in the parks, with the potential for up to 10 AmeriCorps NCCC teams over the next 12 months, with the potential to renew and extend the MOU in the future. NCCC members will create and restore hiking trails, plant trees, and construct and renovate public buildings to support Arkansas’ promotion of its incredibly beautiful parks, scenic rivers, and hunting grounds to boost tourism, outdoor recreation, and public health.

“In Arkansas, we are always looking to enhance the conservation of our natural heritage for future generations,” Secretary of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism Shea Lewis said. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with AmeriCorps as they continue to aid us in the important task of building a skilled workforce and growing conservation efforts.”

“AmeriCorps is committed to helping build resilient communities that conserve public lands and waters,” said Michael D. Smith, AmeriCorps CEO. “Uniting community and national service with conservation efforts delivers a win all around. It improves the environment, strengthens local economies, and provides pathways to clean jobs. I couldn’t be more encouraged to begin this important work with our partners in Arkansas, protecting public lands and creating greater access for all.”

The signing was held at Pinnacle Mountain State Park.
The signing was held at Pinnacle Mountain State Park.

“The AmeriCorps current has been flowing through Arkansas for 30 years, and thanks to this programming, our state has been able to meet and serve many community needs,” said Amanda R. Nipper, Co-Chair of the Governor’s Commission on National Service and Volunteerism – Engage Arkansas. “Arkansas State Parks are a treasure in this state, and Engage Arkansas is proud to collaborate with the state parks office and our AmeriCorps NCCC partners to accomplish even more.”

Outdoor recreation and tourism revenue are vital to the Arkansas economy. The shared goals of this partnership, signed just one month ahead of Earth Day, will leverage conservation-based programs and activities, effectively protecting and increasing access to environmental and outdoor resources in Arkansas.

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