Earlier this month, Secretary Sally Jewell and the Department of the Interior (DOI) celebrated "Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Week" to publicize the importance of LWCF and the Obama Administration's commitment to reauthorization and full funding of the program. The Fund marks its 50th anniversary on July 23 – the date on which the LWCF Act passed the House of Representatives 50 years ago.
Why should the LWCF matter to you? The importance of the LWCF can't be understated. Congress established the Fund to invest in our nation’s land, water and wildlife heritage. Using a fraction of offshore oil and gas revenues, the Fund creates parks – from ball fields to trails to open spaces; provides access for hunting and fishing; preserves habitats for wildlife, important water sources, and historic sites; funds conservation efforts; and benefits local economies.
Several of NPT's recent parkland acquisition projects including those that benefited Glacier National Park (MT) and Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park (GA) were accomplished thanks to resources from LWCF.
The mission of the LWCF is so important that Congress earmarked $900 million for this Fund. So the parks are all set right???? Not so fast. Unfortunately, LWCF has only been fully funded once in 50 years and is set to expire if Congress doesn’t renew the program.
If the Fund expires or continues to be underfunded, many of our parks, public lands and water, and wildlife habitats will be directly impacted. President Obama has joined the Secretary and LWCF Coalition's fight and has called for full funding, as part of a promise to the American people to protect our outdoor heritage. You can do your part by following the Secretary and the LWCF Coalition on Facebook and Twitter (#ParksForAll or #LWCF).
Do you have any idea how big your carbon footprint may be? Did you know that the Caesars Foundation cares about that answer? Although you may not have thought about the answers to either of these questions, Caesars is very proud of their company’s first comprehensive environmental sustainability strategy called CodeGreen. Building on our multi-year partnership, Caesars is working with NPT and Terrapass to create a Buddy Bison carbon reduction school contest that will engage elementary school students and their employees in fun creative ways to: 1) learn about greenhouse gases and assess their consumption in energy and waste; 2) set goals for students to reduce carbon emissions, waste and energy; 3) create easy action steps to reduce energy and waste consumption; 4) quantify results so actions equal results; and 5) earn park scholarships for their schools!
This unique program begins this upcoming school year and all schools participating in the program will win park scholarships of differing amounts depending on the results of their carbon reduction contest “report card”. Five elementary schools in the following Caesars communities will participate: Atlantic City, New Orleans, North Kansas City, Council Bluffs and Las Vegas. The respective Caesars properties will launch the program in each school and will also participate by reducing their waste and energy at their work sites.
"We are very pleased to continue our partnership with National Park Trust through the support of the Buddy Bison Carbon Reduction Contest," said Gwen Migita, Vice President Sustainability & Corporate Citizenship, Caesars Entertainment Corporation. "The contest offers an engaging way to educate and empower elementary school students and our employees to reduce energy and waste consumption, which is a core focus of our corporate citizenship efforts."
Each week the schools will take on a new challenge related to reducing their carbon footprint. Parents and caregivers will likely benefit from this contest as well, in the form of lower utility costs since the students will have the opportunity to earn extra contest points if they transfer their energy and waste saving practices to their homes. Who will participate and win this contest? Stay tuned for more details this fall and the results in early 2015. And thank you to the Caesars Foundation for our continued partnership to cultivate environmental stewards!
As many of you may already know, on June 11th NPT honored Senator Ron Wyden (OR) with the 2014 Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award for his decades of leadership to protect and preserve our parks and public lands. Senator Wyden is the chair of the Senate Finance Committee and former chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Thanks to the generosity of two of our Vento Award event sponsors, Prudential and Emerson Electric, NPT is proud to announce the addition of two new Buddy Bison Schools in Portland and Fossil, Oregon.
Senator Wyden stated, “When a person is young, a positive experience with Oregon’s outdoor treasures or learning about the natural environment can resonate through her or his whole life. The National Park Trust's Buddy Bison program will enable Oregon students to experience our state’s wonders first-hand, and provide valuable STEM education at the same time.”
Portland's Buddy Bison School
Through the generosity of our new corporate partner, Prudential, the Buddy Bison program will be coming to the Boise-Eliot/Humboldt School (BEH), the product of the merger of three separate schools in inner-city Portland. BEH has historically suffered from lack of resources and the Buddy Bison program will help to provide quality STEM experiences specifically for their unit on earth systems and matter and energy. Currently 83% of their students qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch. Prudential’s support of this under-served school will make it possible for BEH teachers to fulfill their curriculum goals by implementing the Buddy Bison environmental education program and learning about NPT's park and public lands initiatives.
"Prudential is delighted to provide support for National Park Trust and Portland's Boise-Eliot/Humboldt school to enhance their 5th-grade science curriculum," stated Steve Pelletier, Prudential Executive Vice President and head of US businesses."Parks are wonderful places for hands-on learning."
NPT will kick-off this new partnership with a trip this fall to Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.
Fossil's Buddy Bison School
Fossil Charter School in the town of Fossil, Oregon boasts a population of 470 and a school roster from kindergarten through 12th grade of about 80 students. As you can imagine, funding for extracurricular activities, education and field trips are extremely limited in this under-resourced community. Senator Wyden held his first and 700th town hall meeting here, a testament to the fact that that this little rural town in the high desert is just as important as the biggest city. Now that Emerson Electric has stepped up to the plate to provide Vento Award event sponsorship funding to bring the Buddy Bison Program to Fossil, the landscape there will be changed literally and figuratively.
The students at Fossil Charter School have a lofty goal -- to take a field trip to Crater Lake. However, because this destination is over 4 ½ hours away by vehicle, it will require an overnight stay, the cost of which would be well out of their reach. According to Patrick Sly, Emerson Executive Vice President, “We are delighted to support National Park Trust to honor Senator Ron Wyden and to provide the important resources that will allow the students from Fossil Charter School to participate in the Buddy Bison school program this upcoming school year."
Please watch future newsletters for pictures and stories about their educational park adventures!
NPT is proud to announce the newest addition to our Leadership Council – Michael Soukup.
Mike was the Chief Scientist for the National Park System (NPS) for 12 years and was the key architect of the Natural Resource Challenge – the NPS vision for approaching the next century of rapid environmental change. That program initiated a 13-agency Cooperative Ecosystem Studies (CESU) Network with over 300 academic partners, 19 research learning centers, and a long-term faunal/floral inventory and monitoring system for the 270 natural resource parks. Most recently, Mike is the past president and CEO of the Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park; he currently serves on several boards and as director of science for the Schoodic Institute.
We are delighted to welcome Mike Soukup as our newest member of the Leadership Council," stated Chuck Knauss, NPT board member and chair of the Leadership Council. "Mike's expertise in the ecosystems of our national parks and dedication to education will be a tremendous asset for our land preservation work and for our Buddy Bison environmental education program.” Mike agreed to serve on the Leadership Council because, in his own words, “the National Park Trust can be a valuable asset in assuring a bright future for national parks and I hope to help however I can.”
Mike was also the former director of research at Everglades National Park. His personal research targeted lake and marsh biogeochemistry and restoration. Mike continues to explore the role that national parks can play for greater impact on the future landscape, as they are superb natural laboratories and inspirational sites for lifelong learning. Mike’s experience and vision will be a wonderful compliment to NPT’s Leadership Council. Thanks to Mike for giving of his time and knowledge so generously.
A HUGE Buddy Bison thanks to all of our partners, collaborators and participants for supporting and promoting the 4th annual Kids to Parks Day! The wonderful success of this movement would not have been possible without your help! Here are some metrics that we are happy to report:
- 1,010,000 online hits for "Kids to Parks Day" (141% increase from last year)
- 447,025 participants -- (165% increse)
- 1,050 park events at kidstoparks.org in 47 states and D.C.(186% increase)
- 407 signed proclamations from all 50 states and D.C. (33% increase)
- 28 governors signed proclamations and letters of support (128% increase)
- 1 Senate resolution: co-sponsored by Senators Mark Udall (CO), Senator Mary Landrieu, (LA), Senator Ron Wyden (OR) and Senator Rob Portman (OH)
- 43 schools received park scholarships as winners of our Kids to Parks Day National School Contest – benefiting 3,200 students grades preK through 12 in 29 states
Our DC signature event for 300 students was held at Constitution Gardens on the National Mall. Guest speaker Rhea Suh, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget at the U.S. Department of the Interior, reminded the kids that, "These parks are yours!".
Activity and education stations were hosted by the National Park Service, the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers,IM FIT, Ground Work Anacostia, the NFL Players Association, US Park Police Mounted Unit, National Parks and Conservation Association, the North Face and Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
Check out the photos that have already been tagged. And save the date: Kids to Parks Day 2015 is May 16th!