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The 2016 centennial of the National Park Service provides an opportunity to highlight the core principles shared by supporters of our national parks and their owners, the American people.

arrow Download the Statement of Joint Principles (pdf 94 kb)



Supporting "National Parks for a New Century"

By Derrick A. Crandall, President, American Recreation Coalition

The first-ever America’s Summit on National Parks was held in January 2012 by a coalition of partners that included those urging more outreach to the public to encourage visitation to parks and other Great Outdoors spots.

photo of crowds at big outdoor displays

The future of our national parks, historic sites, and heritage areas
depends on new partnerships and public awareness


We are making good progress in attracting widespread support for the Statement of Joint Principles that resulted! Thanks to Summit attendees and a bevy of leaders in the parks community, we will hit the 300 mark today of organizations that have endorsed the Principles, and we are also attracting a number of prominent individuals, including former Members of Congress and key federal officials.

We are seeking to add to this list substantially over the next month, and we need the help of all park supporters. The document contains some very important provisions, including "Enhancing our Quality of Life" and "Deliver Lasting Memories."

The park concessioners and many other recreation organizations are signed on— see the list attached. Your organizations would add some real gravitas. I invite you to become an endorser at We are counting on support from traditional park supporters, but want to add to this base with businesses in gateway communities, tourism and health interests and those in the education field.

The importance of our efforts is that by gaining a significant and diverse base of support, the Principles will receive more consideration as we share them during this very important year of decision by American voters. In November, voters will select our President for the next four years— including the National Park Service Centennial year of 2016. We’ll also elect 435 US Representatives, at least 33 US Senators and at least 11 governors. Summit organizers will be delivering the Principles to candidates for these offices in a variety of ways. We will submit the Principles to the Republican And Democratic party platform hearings. We will share the Principles and other key information, including polling data, with leading political consultants. And we will help park supporters use the Principles as they meet with political candidates at town hall meetings and other campaign events.

In order to add emphasis to the Principles, we will approach key governors from both parties to ask that they add personal support to inclusion of the spirit of the Principles in each of the major party platforms. Meetings are now being sought with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper— we are going to ask them to offer the Principles to their respective platform committees.



Together, we call on America’s leaders to unite around a Centennial Agenda that engages the American people in an active partnership to protect and revitalize our national parks, and encourages them to take advantage of the many opportunities our parks and National Park Service programs present. This Centennial Agenda should adhere to the following principles:

1. Keep America’s Promise to Our Children: We borrow national parks from our children. As we enjoy today’s opportunities to experience our national parks and heritage, we must also restore, preserve, and protect the parks’ air, water, animal and plant life, as well as cultural and historic landscapes, so future generations can experience them as we do.

2. Protect and Cherish Our Heritage: The National Park Service should have adequate resources to serve the American people, through basic federal funding, philanthropic giving, visitor support, and innovative partnerships. National parks and our heritage should be honored, cherished and cared for, so they may exist for future generations to enjoy.

3. Promote Powerful Partnerships: Our national parks and Park Service programs depend on powerful, diverse partnerships. Partnerships help achieve conservation goals, propel visitation, engage youth, preserve cultural heritage, and foster recreation, volunteerism and public service, healthy lifestyles, sustainable jobs and economic vitality. Support from partners and volunteers will thrive as long as there is a clear commitment to sustained federal support for national parks and programs.

4. Evolve with a Changing America: The National Park System and its programs should continue to evolve and reflect the growing diversity of our nation, increasing urbanization, and conservation needs in our expanding national community. The National Park Service and its partners must also reflect this diversity in the faces they project and the creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship they summon to preserve our collective heritage.

5. Enhancing our Quality of Life: National parks and their programs help produce healthy minds and bodies. They should foster connections to communities through trails, waterways, and other means, facilitated by the National Park Service and partners. They should be used to teach us, through our visits and in America’s classrooms, about our natural and cultural heritage, and be available for present and future generations to tap as a reservoir to enhance our enjoyment, health, and quality of life.

6. Deliver Lasting Memories: Families and friends expect to enjoy memorable, outstanding visits to National Park Service sites. Educational and interpretive programs, lodging and food, trails and other recreation facilities should be exceptional, park‐appropriate and responsive to visitor needs, and natural and cultural resources should be in the best possible condition. High quality park experiences should be affordable for all and accessible both physically and virtually.


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