What a difference a year makes. What a difference COVID-19 has made in 2020!
Each year, the National Association of State Park Directors comes together
to share innovations and challenges, celebrate achievements, and explore the future of outdoor recreation. We had the best of well laid plans for a September meeting in western Pennsylvania, but it was not to be this year!
Annual visitation to state parks has been at record levels exceeding 800 million in recent years. In the spring
and early summer, all of America’s State Parks were seriously impacted by the pandemic. The state park systems in 12 states were totally closed; 30 more states closed all overnight accommodations. With nearly
230K campsites – America’s State Parks provide the most camping opportunities – plus hundreds of lodges, and thousands of cabins and cottages, the impact was substantial.
The staff and volunteers of America’s State Parks are resourceful and resilient! Incredible efforts have been made to reopen parks in the most accommodating and safe manner. Some limitations remain in most states. However, the public demand and appreciation for parks and open space continue at record levels. In fact, one state announced record annual visitation at the end
of September despite having been closed entirely or opened with restricted access for several weeks; another state announced they had exceeded their record number of campers for a year with still a few weeks left in the season.
Parks staff and advocates remain passionate about providing quality outdoor recreation experiences and conserving the unique natural and cultural resources for future generations. With the support and participation provided by the vendor community, we know you
share in the commitment, and we know you have been impacted also. State parks budgets exceeded $2.8 billion in operational expenditures and nearly $900 million in capital spending last year. Parks continue to need your products and services.
Thus, it is important for parks management, advocates and exhibitors to again come together, even if in a virtual, teleconference setting, to explore how we best provide quality services and resolve our challenges to adapt and respond in the future.
This year we invite you to join us on December 9 and
10 for our virtual conference, Relevance and Essential Service in America’s State Parks. The agenda, conference registration information, and sponsorship opportunities are attached.
Whether it will be your first time “attending” or you are a veteran of our conference, we thank you for your service with the essential America’s State Parks.