The guest list for celebrating the 100th anniversary of Indiana State Parks gets a little longer next week when the annual conference of the National Association of State Parks Directors takes place at French Lick Springs Hotel in southern Indiana. “We are so excited to be in Indiana for our 2016 conference during Indiana State Parks’ centennial celebration,” said NASPD president Domenic Bravo, director of Wyoming State Parks. “Indiana State Parks are an iconic park system with some of the most amazing staff and facilities in the country, so who would not be excited to have an NASPD conference there. “What a great way to celebrate with 50 of your friends from across the United States. Happy birthday, Indiana State Parks.” It’s also the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, which will be represented at the NASPD conference.
“Since the National Park Service and Indiana State Parks share a history dating back to when both organizations were founded in 1916, it’s only fitting that the nation’s state park professionals and our federal partners come together to discuss issues the parks face as we head into our next century of service not only in the Hoosier State but also all across the nation,” said Dan Bortner, director of the DNR Division of State Parks and a member of the NASPD board of directors. Next week’s conference runs from Monday through Friday and centers on the theme “America’s State Parks: Celebrating our Sacred Inheritance.” The phrase “sacred inheritance” was bestowed on all state park systems by Col. Richard Lieber, founder of Indiana State Parks. The conference also attracts sponsors and vendors. NASPD executive director Lewis Ledford said: “This year, Stihl, Active Network, the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, US Foods, Guest Services, Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands, Itinio, Guest Services, Leisure Interactive, Solid Light Exhibit Company and Innovation in Motion are key partners in the meeting. There are 48 exhibitors from the parks and recreation community who will be present as well.
They provide us with valuable insights into our state park users interests and needs, and they also bring us innovative and creative tools for managing and conserving our park resources.” NASPD is made up of park directors from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Its mission is to promote and advance the significance of America’s state parks and their contributions to the nation’s environment, heritage, health, and economy. America’s 10,234 state parks covering 18 million combined acres provide numerous nearby destinations that draw nearly 740 million visitors annually – more than double the population of the United States. Collectively, state parks offer more than 43,000 miles of trails, 217,000 campsites, 8,300 cabins and cottages, 130 lodges with 6,700 rooms, 130 golf courses, 147 ski slopes, 292 marinas, 306 swimming pools, and almost 100 stable operations. “We have found over the years that America's State Parks are the elixir of life because we provide so many far reaching benefits to people,” Bravo said. “With economic drivers that are the basis for some states economies, great experiences and memories, and breathtaking vistas, America's State Parks are the cornerstone of what makes the United States a great nation.” For more on the Indiana State Parks centennial celebration, go to www.INStateParks100.com.