Samuel Stokes, (202) 565-1200
National Park Service (NPS) Director Robert Stanton announced that this year the Service's Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program (Rivers & Trails) will expand its technical assistance program and open four new field offices to assist 25 additional local conservation efforts in communities around the country. Rivers & Trails is the community resource of the NPS that works with local citizens groups to preserve valuable open spaces, revitalize nearby rivers, and develop trail and greenway networks. "When the public thinks of the National Park Service, they think of beloved national treasures like Yosemite and Gettysburg, but our mission actually extends far beyond the boundaries of these majestic national parks. The Service also seeks to preserve natural treasures close to home - and that is where the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program is leading the way," Stanton said.
New offices, staffed by one or two NPS professionals, are to be opened in Los Angeles, Calif., Salt Lake City, Utah, Chattanooga, Tenn., and Minneapolis, Minn. This brings the total number of Rivers & Trails offices to 30 locations in all regions of the nation. By placing NPS staff in field offices close to the communities that have asked for their help, Rivers & Trails can better assist these locally-led conservation projects.
The additional assistance is made possible by a Fiscal Year (FY) 2000 funding increase of $500,000 added to Rivers & Trail's existing $7.2 million budget. The funding increase has permitted the program to assist approximately 250 projects in FY 2000 -- 25 more than in 1999. The President's FY 2001 budget proposes an additional increase of $500,000 for the Rivers & Trails program. This level of funding would allow NPS to assist 25 more community conservation projects and place additional staff in locations around the country.
Fulfilling the NPS' commitment to help communities help themselves is the mission of the Rivers & Trails program. Rivers & Trails does not direct or fund projects, but when a community has decided to conserve close-to-home landscapes, Rivers & Trails can help it get started by providing a national network of conservation and recreation-planning professionals to assist with nature-based recreation development and environmental, historic and cultural conservation projects.
Since its inception, the Rivers & Trails program has participated in more than 1000 projects in all 50 states. In FY 1999 alone, Rivers & Trails assistance led to the protection of 1400 miles of trails, 400 miles of river corridor, and 11,000 acres of open space nationwide.
Rivers & Trails is one of a number of programs set up by the National Park Service to better serve the needs of communities and their local conservation efforts. Through these programs, communities across the nation ask for and receive help in establishing new trail systems, restoring degraded rivers, acquiring federal surplus lands for parks and recreation, and protecting historic and cultural places important to them. These programs include Federal Lands to Parks, Land and Water Conservation Fund, Long Distance Trails, Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery, and Wild and Scenic Rivers.
For further information on the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, visit the website at www.ncrc.nps.gov/rtca or contact Samuel N. Stokes, Chief, Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, National Park Service, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, D.C., 20240, or by telephone at (202) 565-1200.