The National Park Foundation (NPF) continued to deliver significant impact to parks all over the country this year, helping to ensure America’s national parks thrive now and in the future.
As usual, the Foundation did not do it alone, and that continues to make all the difference. The impact the National Park Foundation and partners are making possible in parks across the country is impressive and inspiring.
Last year, the Foundation’s close alignment with the National Park Service, active engagement with park partners, and the tremendous generosity of donors helped to connect more than 184,000 students to parks and ensured that more than 900 miles of park trails were maintained to enhance visitor experience. The Foundation and partners modernized campgrounds and trails at Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, making them more accessible to all. Visitors to Badlands National Park can look forward to a new state of the art visitor center that will feature opportunities to learn about the history, culture, and heritage of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Lakota People.
The Foundation is helping keep national parks wild and resilient, investing in restoration of native wildlife and habitat. From Yellowstone to Denali and Everglades to Pinnacles, Foundation-funded efforts to study, protect, and restore some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the country are supporting the long-term health of natural landscapes and wildlife, including bison, gopher tortoises, monarch butterflies, wolves, bald eagles, cutthroat trout, and California condors.
Underscoring its commitment to bringing history to life in parks, the Foundation and partners celebrated the grand opening of Pullman National Monument, Chicago’s first national park site. Lead gifts from the Pritzker Traubert Foundation and other donors laid the groundwork for success. Local partners, including the Chicago Neighborhood Initiative, the Historic Pullman Foundation, the State of Illinois, and the National Park Service stepped up to provide critical investment and expertise to ensure Pullman’s rich history is preserved and a fuller story is told. Taken as a whole, Pullman National Monument tells the story of American opportunity, trial, and triumph. It is the story of industrialization in America’s heartland, the story of one of the nation’s first planned communities, and the inspiring story of Pullman porters who championed an emerging labor and civil rights movement.
The Foundation expanded its investment in service corps programs last year. NPF-supported crews contributed nearly 60,000 hours of service at more than 50 national parks. Crew members restored natural habitat, improved trails, planted trees, and were trained to fight wildfires.
The growth of service corps, the diversity of crew members, and the impact corps are making is truly inspiring.
The Foundation’s impact in the parks has a direct connection to the funds NPF is able to raise. In 2021, the Foundation exceeded its goals by raising more than $128 million in total revenue, thanks to donations from individuals, families, foundations, and corporations. Special gratitude goes to the hard-working staff and dedicated board and national council for their ongoing support.
The National Park Foundation’s ability to support the parks is greatly enhanced when its partners succeed. That’s why a big focus of the Foundation’s work is to increase the capacity of our park partners. This year, that manifested in more than 50 grants to partners across the country designed to meet their growing needs to impact parks throughout the park system. This work with local Friends Groups and other partners is fundamental to our collective success in both impacting the parks and visitors’ experience as well as making national parks a philanthropic priority.
Finally, the Foundation welcomes National Park Service Director Chuck Sams and looks forward to a long and strong partnership with him and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. Investing in the future of parks, enhancing visitor experience, bringing innovative solutions to address the impacts of climate change in parks, and advancing equity, inclusion, and access in parks are priorities shared by the National Park Foundation and the park partner community.
With energy and anticipation, the Foundation’s leadership and staff look forward to continuing our work to protect America’s national parks, and to inspire all people to connect with and protect the places that belong to us all.
America’s national parks belong to all of us. So too, should the opportunity to experience the profound sense of wonder, connection, and understanding that national parks inspire.
Across the Department of the Interior, we are deeply committed to protecting our shared natural and cultural resources, which are essential as we work to increase access and equity for all visitors and as we endeavor to tell a fuller and more inclusive story of our Nation.
From celebrating the legacy of Pullman porters at Pullman National Monument and honoring the struggle for LGBTQ rights at Stonewall, to better understanding the experiences of Japanese Americans and Tribal communities who suffered at Manzanar and Sand Creek, we as a people are made more complete by the stories our national parks elevate, honor, and share.
I am inspired every day by the committed and purposeful work carried out by more than 20,000 National Park Service employees across the country who are such dedicated stewards and ambassadors of our National Park System.
Stewardship of our national parks is a shared commitment to care for the needs of today and to invest in the future. Our parks, park programs, and visitor experiences are made better by the additional resources the National Park Foundation and the park partner community bring to bear for the benefit of our national parks. I am grateful for the National Park Foundation’s partnership to embrace a second century of parks. Together, we can ensure these national treasures are preserved for future generations and are places where all people feel welcome today.
For more than a century, the National Park Service has protected our treasured public lands and waters and preserved the places, history, and artifacts that tell America’s story. I am honored that President Biden and Secretary Haaland have placed their trust in me to lead this vital mission, and grateful to have your help through the power of philanthropy.
Growing up on the Umatilla Indian Reservation, I learned that we humans are deeply connected to the flora, fauna, air, and water. This symbiotic relationship drives my commitment to stewardship and informs my vision and goals.
I have outlined seven priorities that support our collective work: connecting and empowering a thriving and diverse workforce; investing in the future of parks through the Great American Outdoors Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law; confronting the climate crisis using science and traditional ecological knowledge; advancing equity, inclusion, and access; respecting and strengthening Indigenous connections; creating an experience that meets visitor expectations into the future; and improving business practices to ensure accountability to ourselves, our partners, and the American people.
Many of these priorities offer great opportunities for us to collaborate. The National Park Foundation and other partners are already helping us use new technologies and data to learn about and improve the visitor experience. Streamlining business practices demonstrates the value of financial stewardship and pays big dividends in achieving our shared goals. The park partner community has shown its business acumen over the last five years, increasing direct and in-kind support from $240 million to $400 million and overall revenue from $440 million to more than $600 million.
This has been a remarkable year for our partnerships, and my appreciation goes to the National Park Foundation board, staff, and donors. With your donations, visitors to iconic parks like the National Mall and Memorial Parks will experience additional accessible exhibits and new and updated drinking fountains, while behind the scenes maintenance and design work prepares the site for the future. The support for our women’s fire crews and trails crews led by people of color has laid the groundwork for increased diversification of the workforce. The support for the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail helps move us forward in implementing the environmental justice priorities of the administration through investment in disadvantaged communities by purchasing dilapidated buildings in Downtown Selma and improving the Visitor Center in anticipation of the new John Lewis Voting Rights Center. Corporate and consultant support have also helped us tell our stories to the public and implement a world class visitor experience. These investments in people, places, and stories are invaluable.
I am deeply grateful for the support of the National Park Foundation and the partner community in helping us to honor the past and invest in the future of parks, as we work to make these special places more accessible and welcoming to all.