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National Parks for a
Statement of Joint Principles
The National Park Principles convey strong, widespread, nonpartisan support for the national parks and related conservation, historic preservation, and recreation programs to national leaders, and define common ground for leaders, advocates, philanthropists and park partners.
The principles are designed to have a lengthy life, to be compelling, and to provide
a philosophical framework that guides the separate action agenda that emerged from
America’s Summit on National Parks.
The principles focus on “high level” concepts designed to lay the groundwork for specific policy propositions, philanthropic approaches and partnership efforts. They are intended to be sufficiently specific to be used to support key action items and to enable efforts at accountability, consistent with the breadth of support their supporters exemplify. They are designed to highlight the broad appeal of our national parks.
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.