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2019 Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award Event Program

This June, National Park Trust awarded Senator Richard Burr (NC) with the 19th Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award. Senator Burr was recognized for his numerous accomplishments including his leadership in seeking permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund – a vision he shared with the award’s namesake, Congressman Bruce Vento. Take a look at clips from the award ceremony.

Video Tribute to Senator Burr



Speech by third grade Buddy Bison Student, Amari Sowah (Washington, DC)



Speech by fourth grade Buddy Bison Student Morgan Marsh (Washington, DC)



Speech by fifth grade Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Audrey Elliott (Nebo, NC)



Award Acceptance, with speeches by NPT Board Chair Bill Brownell, Sue Vento, and Senator Richard Burr.

Saving One of the Most Scenic Views on the Appalachian Trail

The National Park Service (NPS) often needs a trusted partner to take ownership of and “hold” onto land before it can be transferred to NPS. This is one of many ways that National Park Trust (NPT) works to help our national parks! Recently, NPT was asked by a partner of the Appalachian Trail National Scenic Trail, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, to take ownership of 239 acres of land called Hogan’s Hollow while NPS completes all the work that goes into accepting Federal ownership of the property. 

Thousands of hikers each year look out over Hogan’s Hollow from McAfee Knob. The 3,197-foot knob is considered one of the most scenic views and one of the most photographed places on the Appalachian Trail. This view could have been dramatically changed if the property had been developed or the timber cut, which had happened to neighboring lands. This project will also protect a section of the trail which runs through the property.

NPT Executive Director Grace Lee said, “We were excited to have been asked by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to join the team with them and The Conservation Fund to preserve this land for future generations.”

The ATC was awarded a grant from the Virginia Outdoor Foundation to make the purchase; the money was part of a legal settlement between Virginia and a company wishing to build a pipeline nearby to make up for the environmental cost of construction.

Have an eco-friendly Independence Day

Have an eco-friendly Independence Day

Check-out our guide to greening your July Fourth festivities

The Fourth marks the perfect time for barbecues, outdoor fun, and fireworks. Unfortunately, Independence Day traditions can also be destructive to our environment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy all that summer’s biggest celebration has to offer. With a few changes, your July 4th can be festive and eco-friendly!

Gather Outside

Your national parks, local parks, and backyard offer the perfect lighting, temperature, and a green setting for your celebration. The larger a group you gather outside, the less energy you use at individual indoor parties.

  • Make sure to practice Leave No Trace principles like avoiding closed areas that protect wildlife and marine habitat. Pack out and appropriately dispose of all garbage.
  • Consider hosting your barbecue at midday when the light is bright and fills your guests with energy. Or fight the heat by hosting your get together during cooler evening weather. 

BBQ Basics

There are many ways to make this Fourth of July staple easy on our planet.

  • Serve locally grown, pesticide-free fruits and veggies, and choose sustainably raised meat for your grill.
  • Charcoal, while delicious, creates air pollution and poses serious health risks. Consider using propane or electric grills – many retailers will let your trade in your empty propane tank for a discount on your next purchase.
  • Respect any burn bans. If no ban is in place, fires must be at least 100 feet from vegetation and other critical resources.
  • Plastic water bottles may be an easy option, but they create waste and may be bad for your health. Store water and other drinks for guests in large containers so they can refill their reusable cups or bottles. 
  • Use recyclable or reusable tableware to prevent items from going into the landfill. Reuse your patriotic decorations next year, or skip buying decor, and use local flowers for your table.

Skip the Fireworks and Light it Up

Fireworks are an Independence Day tradition along with the fires and fear that they cause for pets and humans. You don’t need the bang of fireworks to have a blast this Fourth.

  • Many cities now host laser shows, and those lights can be used time and time again whereas fireworks can only be used once. 
  • Glow-in-the-dark LED toys can be just as beautiful as fireworks and they keep you away from all the chemicals caused by an explosion. 
  • If you have a fire pit and it is safe, a nice campfire can provide even better ambiance than fireworks
  • If fireworks are a must, gather at your local fireworks display. It’s a great way to see a much larger show and prevents you from harming the environment with your own personal display. 

We hope you celebrate this July Fourth thoughtfully and sustainably!




Contact: Erin Mezgar,, 301-279-7275 x15

Washington, DC (June 12, 2019) – At an evening reception at the Newseum, the National Park Trust (NPT) awarded Sen. Richard Burr (NC) with the 19th Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award. The award was presented by Sue Vento and NPT Board Chair Bill Brownell (top left) along with students Audrey Elliott, Morgan Marsh and Amari Sowah (left to right).

Senator Burr was recognized for his numerous accomplishments including his leadership in seeking permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund – a vision he shared with the award’s namesake, Congressman Bruce Vento. Furthermore, his sponsorship of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Reauthorization Act and ongoing efforts to protect the Corolla Wild Horses demonstrates his continued commitment to protecting some of America’s most valuable ecological and historical resources. 

“It’s an honor to be recognized by The National Park Trust, and I want to thank them for their support. I strongly believe it’s our responsibility to preserve America’s natural landscapes and parks, so our children and grandchildren can enjoy them as much as we have. North Carolina has over 19 million visitors to its National Park Service Units each year, and organizations like The National Park Trust work diligently with their federal partners to help make those lands accessible. I will continue fighting for common-sense conservation efforts as long as I serve in the Senate.”

Photo by Ben Droz.

Senator Burr has been a strong proponent and active defender and protector of the core values of conservation in this country. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee and the Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure, Senator Burr has supported and advocated for the protection of our national parks, public lands and waters. He also serves on the Senate Aging Committee, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and chairs the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Three students joined NPT to recognize the Senator: Audrey Elliott, 11 years old from Nebo, NC who is one of NPT’s four student ambassadors and Morgan Marsh and Amari Sowah. Amari and Morgan are 9 years old and attend Elsie Whitlow Stokes Public Charter School, one of 21 Buddy Bison Schools in the Washington, DC metro area. 

Student Ambassador Elliott reiterated that, “North Carolina has over 19 million visitors to our National Park Service units each year. It is my mission to increase the awareness of our national parks and encourage other kids to protect these important places. Thank you, Senator Burr, for helping make this possible.”

“We were delighted to be able to honor Senator Richard Burr for his service in Washington, DC and at home in North Carolina to support bi-partisan legislation and programs that will not only preserve America’s national parks and public lands today but also ensure that they will be treasured forever,” stated NPT Board Chair Bill Brownell.


NPT established the Vento Award in 2001 to honor the memory and legacy of Bruce F. Vento, a twelve-term Congressman from Minnesota, dedicated environmentalist and a champion of legislation for America’s parks. The award honors a public servant for his or her commitment to the environment and their service, skill and innovation in support of our public lands. Past recipients include Senator Martin Heinrich (NM), Senator Lamar Alexander (TN), Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN), Senator Rob Portman (OH), Senator Ron Wyden (OR), Congressman Mike Simpson (ID), Senator Jeff Bingaman (NM), Senator Susan Collins (ME), Senator Mark Udall (CO), Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA), Senator Harry Reid (NV), Congressman George Miller (CA), Senator John McCain (AZ), Senator Bob Graham (FL), Congressman John Lewis (GA), Congresswoman Connie Morella (MD), Congressman John Seiberling (OH), Lt Governor Lowell Thomas (AK).

All proceeds from the annual event benefit NPT’s park preservation and youth education programs.



National Park Trust (NPT) is a non-profit dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow. NPT is the only land trust with a comprehensive mission of protecting national parks through land acquisition and creating a pipeline of future park stewards by getting kids to parks. Since 1983, NPT has completed 70 land projects in 31 states, 1 US Territory, and Washington, DC. This school year, NPT provided nearly 20,000 children with park trips through their nationally recognized Buddy Bison Programs and Kids to Parks Day National School Contest, both of which support Title I schools in under-served communities.

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