Last month, NPT was the recipient of a grant from Union Pacific Railroad thanks to the efforts of Ann Gentle, senior manager of automotive operations. Ann was selected among the company's 45,000 employees as a finalist in their annual Chairman's Environmental Award, which was established to recognize a Union Pacific employee demonstrating outstanding environmental awareness, leadership and responsibility.
After careful research, Ann selected NPT to receive the grant for our work to connect kids to the outdoors and also for our top A- ranking with Charity Watch - a nationally prominent charity rating and evaluation service that helps donors make informed giving decisions.
Ann's passion for the outdoors developed as a young child backpacking with her family. Ann has shared her passion for the outdoors with her three children who all enjoy camping and hiking. In fact, they are all "highpointers", hiking to the highest point in each state they visit - 26 so far! However, Ann refers to her group as the "slowpointers", given that half of their hikes involved a small child in a backpack carrier or negotiating with a slightly older one to "just take 10 more steps."
"The National Park System is one of our country's greatest resources. We are blessed with acre upon acre of incredible natural beauty. After a few days with the cell phones and alarm clocks and electronic games turned off, we turn into a family of upturned faces, seeing the flora and fauna around us as if everything is new and there just for us. When you see your five-year-old squeal over the discovery of a frog hidden under a leaf in the Smoky Mountains, or listen to the teenager, who has memorized all the different types of cactus in Big Bend and delights in describing the details ('that's leguchilla, also known as the "shin-ripper"'), you fall in love with your children - and this country - all over again. Spending time in nature returns us to ourselves," stated Ann.
The gift will be used to support NPT's Kids to Parks Day National Scholarship program and will enable under-served children to explore local, state or national parks in their community. Thank you Ann for your help to preserve parks today and create park stewards for tomorrow!
Our partnership with Katten Muchin Rosenman, LLP began in 2012, when they provided a generous grant to engage students from José de Diego Community Academy (Chicago, IL) in our Buddy Bison environmental education program. Since that time the students have participated in a variety of outdoor experiences. In addition, teachers received our Buddy Bison toolkit filled with resources to incorporate environmental education into lesson plans throughout the year.
Last month, the students had the opportunity to meet with a naturalist from the Hal Tyrell Trailside Museum in Chicago and take a guided tour and nature hike. To celebrate the end of the school year, the students will travel to Indiana Dunes where they will explore the diverse ecosystems of the national lakeshore.
"We at Katten, Muchin Rosenman, LLP are delighted to partner with National Park Trust to sponsor José de Diego Community Academy as a Buddy Bison school. The feedback from the students and teachers has been so positive; parks are wonderful places for students to learn and enjoy," stated Megan McKeon, senior marketing manager.
Through the Katten Cares program, employees also help the school with programs designed to improve students’ literacy, increase their use of technology, and encourage and reward academic achievement. Katten attorneys and staff engage in diverse activities with the school, including tutoring and reading programs, the Lawyers in the Classroom program, and a holiday book drive.
National Park Trust’s important partnership with The Trust for Public Land has resulted in the completion of national park preservation projects including the acquisition of 120 acres within Glacier National Park, 42 acres within Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park and a 30-acre parcel located within Zion National Park. The Tabernacle Dome parcel was acquired in fall 2012 thanks to a major donor, and conveyed to the National Park Service in December 2013.
This month, Marsha Runningen, legislative director of The Trust for Public Land recognized NPT by presenting a framed photograph of Tabernacle Dome in Zion to NPT’s board chair Bill Brownell (center) and land and park preservation committee chair, Jonathan Cohen.
Located on Kolob Terrace at the foot of Tabernacle Dome – a spectacular, steeply rounded peak rising to 6,430 feet from Cave Valley on the western side of the park, the area is popular for its hiking trails, camping and spectacular vistas. Protection of this property expands public access and ensures that the views cherished by visitors will not be diminished by development.
"The Trust for Public Land is grateful to National Park Trust for helping us to act quickly to save this land from development. The view of Tabernacle Dome from the Kolob Terrace Road will remain an inspiring sight to be enjoyed by visitors to Zion for generations to come", stated Marsha Runningen.
Early March kicked off the beginning of a multi-year partnership with NPT and Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. Through 2017, NPT will be working with the National Park Service and local school groups to restore the Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery by planting native trees. They also will be learning about the park's rich and diverse cultural history. Fifth graders from Chalmette Elementary donned boots, gloves and safety goggles and assisted in planting 180 trees; the native hardwoods will preserve the beauty of the park while replacing storm damaged trees.
“They made an immediate difference in the appearance of the battlefield and the national cemetery. In the long run, the site will look better and better as the trees grow, and every time those participants pass by, they’ll see their trees and know that they played an important part in preserving these sites for everyone to enjoy in the future,” said Jean Lafitte’s Chief of Resource Management, Guy Hughes.
Students will visit the park again before the end of the school year to monitor the trees. Over the next four years, NPT is providing funding for planting materials including trees, equipment, boots, gloves, goggles and monitoring tools.
Last month, Mojave National Preserve, National Park Trust and Chevron celebrated the formal transfer of ownership of the new Ivanpah Desert Tortoise Research Facility to the National Park Service. Located on seven acres adjacent to the Preserve, the solar-powered facility and its outdoor dens are being used to hatch, study and protect the threatened desert tortoise. The facility was constructed in 2011 but the National Park Service could not take ownership until extensive due diligence — and a boundary adjustment to the Preserve — were all completed. But that delay risked two generations (cohorts) of desert tortoises that could otherwise be hatched and released at the facility. Officials at Mojave National Preserve asked if NPT could help. In response, NPT reached an agreement with Chevron that would allow the Trust to manage the facility as interim steward while researchers from the University of California, Davis and the Savannah River Ecology Lab (GA) conducted their research. Chevron also has donated funds to NPT that are being used to fund tortoise research at the facility over several years.
“We are indebted to the National Park Trust for enabling this complex transaction. Without their help we would have been unable to accept the facility or maintain the research being conducted there. We look forward to working with the Trust in the future on desert tortoise recovery and our many other mutual interests,” stated Superintendent Stephanie Dubois.
While NPT served as the interim steward of the facility, two cohorts of tortoises were successfully hatched, and research to help the juveniles survive is now being conducted. “NPT has again showed its agility and trustworthiness in helping to meet the goals of the Park Service and keep the doors open for this threatened species,” stated board member Ray Sherbill.
A formal dedication of this new facility is planned by the NPS in early September.