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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: September 07, 2007
Contact: Jim Meisner Jr., DCR Public Relations Specialist, (804) 786-8442, firstname.lastname@example.org
National Conference on Parks Yields Historic Agreement
(WILLIAMBURG, Va.) – A three-day National Conference on Parks held in Colonial Williamsburg ended with a ground-breaking agreement targeted at improving the health of America’s children.
The National Association of State Park Directors, under the leadership of newly elected President Greg Butts, director of Arkansas State Parks, and the National Park Service Leadership Council led by National Park Service Director Mary Bomar, signed a resolution pledging that state and national parks would work together to combat obesity, reduce incidence of diabetes, attention disorders, and other mental and physical maladies resulting from a lack of outdoor exercise and contact with nature.
Joe Elton, Virginia’s State Parks director and the conference chair, called the agreement both “historic and timely. There is little doubt that many of the nation’s youth prefer to spend time indoors watching TV and playing video games rather than getting the outdoor recreation and contact with nature that is so important to our mental and physical health.”
Elton credited author Richard Louv, who wrote Last Child in the Woods; Saving our Children from Nature-deficit Disorder, with sparking a national movement and being the driving force behind this healthy lifestyle movement.
Elton also credits U. S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, National Parks Director Mary Bomar and Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling with driving home the importance of addressing this national health crisis during their conference presentations.
In his remarks at the conference, Secretary Kempthorne pledged to rally the federal agencies he oversees to work collaboratively with the states. “I hope we can reach a day when families and children move seamlessly from state parks to national parks, with doors open everywhere and pathways that lead from one program to another, from one life-changing and life-enriching experience to another,” he said. “A day when children beg their parents to take them to a parks as much – and maybe more – than they beg them to buy a new video game.”
NPS Director Mary Bomar called the state and national parks the front line in the effort to reconnect children and their families to outdoor recreation and nature. The compact signed by the state and national parks recognizes that by working together they can make a bigger impact. Specifically the agreement calls on the state and national parks to:
- Focus on individual initiatives to increase the public awareness and
value of connecting children and nature, toward a goal of improving the
knowledge of our nation’s natural resources and the health and welfare
of present and future generations of young Americans.
- Join in a continuing dialogue to discuss common issues and implement solutions to create a seamless system of services.
- Share information and knowledge on developing and expanding natural resource education and recreation opportunities for children and their families.
- Engage other federal, state, local, tribal and non-government partners in shared technology and interactive programs and problem solving activities to achieve mutually agreed upon goals to connect children and nature.
- Promote a national campaign to recognize the importance of this connecting children and families to nature.
In other conference actions, outgoing NASPD President Charles Salkin, director of Delaware State Parks, presented Virginia Director Joe Elton with the 2007 NASPD Distinguished Service Award for “leadership to the conservation, interpretation and enhancement of our nation’s natural and cultural state park treasures.”
Elton, a long-time member of the NASPD Board of Directors, was elected vice-president of the national association. Since 1994, Elton has served as Virginia’s State Parks director under four Virginia governors – two Republican and two Democratic – and is considered among the nation’s most effective state park directors.
For additional information, visit www.naspd.org.-30-