National Association of State Park Directors Congratulates America’s Favorite Park
SANTA FE, N.M., Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ — The results are in. Bear Head Lake in Ely, Minnesota, was named “America’s Favorite Park” through Coca-Cola’s “America Is Your Park” campaign. National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) President and Virginia State Parks Director, Joe Elton, shared the official news to a rousing round of applause at the NASPD Annual Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Quoting the news release from Coca-Cola, Elton shared that Bear Head Lake had received more than 1.6 million of the more than 5.7 million votes cast during the contest and, in addition to the title, was awarded a $100,000 recreation grant. The top ten parks are displayed on the contest website at http://www.livepositively.com/#/americasparks/results.
“One of the things that distinguishes America is its incredible system of state and national parks. Each of us has a favorite gem that is particularly special, as I do from my work in Arizona, Utah and of course, Minnesota,” said Courtland Nelson, Director of the Minnesota DNR Parks and Trails Division and Board Member of the NASPD. “Considering the competition, I don’t think we expected that Bear Head Lake State Park would end up as our nation’s favorite. We are both elated and humbled by the tremendous show of support for Minnesota parks and all parks nationwide.”
Bear Head Lake State Park, one of 73 parks and recreation areas in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) state parks and trails system, plans to use the $100,000 recreation grant to promote outdoor recreation and enhance places in the park for people of all ages to play. Specifically, the park plans to build a much-needed trail center where hikers, paddlers, snowshoers and others can gather before heading outdoors to explore.
“We had a lot of fun with this campaign,” said Joe Elton, President of the National Association of State Park Directors. “When citizens from coast to coast are lighting up their social networks sharing their personal stories about the importance of parks, and state and national parks earn close to six million votes of support from the public–that is a real moment of pride for the park employees, partners and advocates who work on behalf of our parks on a daily basis. ”
Within the past year, mounting pressures on state budgets have put America’s State Parks on the defensive facing steep budget cuts and even closure. As a result, our state parks have been deemed one of America’s most endangered national treasures. The NASPD recently established the America’s State Parks Campaign and the America’s State Parks Foundation to highlight the national importance of our state park system and facilitate public, private, and partner support for this important cause. Grants like Coca-Cola’s–one of the first companies to support this effort–are critical to help keep our more than 6,500 parks across 50 states vital as fun and safe outdoor recreation destinations for families.
“America’s State Parks have a proud history and unquestionable importance to living positively today in America,” said Elton. “Each time our parks have been threatened in the past it has been the determination and support of citizens, foundations and corporations championing the cause that has kept our parks in tact. We are grateful to Coca-Cola for helping us remind citizens how important healthy parks are to the health of our nation, and for their generous contributions that will allow parks in many communities to continue to flourish.”
About Bear Head Lake State Park
Bear Head Lake State Park provides the opportunity to experience first hand the beautiful Northwoods for which Minnesota is so well known. A popular place to camp, canoe, and fish, the park has more than 100,000 visitors a year. Park highlights include 23 miles of pristine lakeshore and abundant wildlife, with stands of white and red pine trees that tower over birch, aspen and fir trees. Located just south of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), it shares a similar wilderness quality, but amenities such as camper cabins, drive-in campsites and running water make it more accessible than the BWCA. As its name implies, Bear Head Lake State Park is home to black bears, as well as nesting eagles, wolves and moose. More information about the park, including a virtual tour with 360-degree panoramic photos of the park’s pristine forests and shoreline, can be found at dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/bear_head_lake/index.html.
About America’s State Parks
With more than 6,000 parks and nearly three-quarters of a billion annual visits, America’s State Parks are vital to the American quality of life. America’s State Parks is a 50 state alliance of public and private organizations working to promote and enhance the collective national treasure that is the great state park system. Leadership and governance for the America’s State Parks alliance comes from members of the National Association of State Park Directors. To get involved, visit www.AmericasStateParks.org.
SOURCE America’s State Parks