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Contact: Wallace Linder, 423-569-9778
Contact: Niki Stephanie Nicholas, 423-569-9778
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Knoxville Arabian Horse Club, American Endurance Ride Conference, and Southern Endurance Riders Association have announced they were the joint recipients of a 2015 National Park Service (NPS) Centennial Challenge Grant. These Centennial Challenge Grants are part of a multi-year effort to prepare for the National Park Service Centennial in 2016. The NPS Centennial Grant Program includes $26 million for restoration projects at national parks around the country, including $16 million from non-governmental partners. In the National Park Service's Southeast Region, this grant program will fund 25 separate projects totaling over $3 million. This Big South Fork project will include installing better road access into the Appaloosa Field which is one of only two fields in the entire park where large groups are permitted to camp or hold special events. The field contains one small pond and a five acre open grassy area that can be used for camping, scouting events and jamborees, horseback events, races, and other group events.
"We truly appreciate our partnership with the horse clubs," said Niki Stephanie Nicholas, park superintendent." Improvements to the Appaloosa Field will protect the natural grasses, wildlife habitats and pond ecosystem while allowing recreationalists better access."
"We value our relationship with the National Park Service. We realize that the National Park Service is a main economic driver to our local economy and we feel it is important to return the support. This project is a win for everyone," said Eric Rueter, manager for the Arabian Horse Association Distance Nationals.
In order to qualify for a Centennial Challenge Grant, projects needed to demonstrate that they provided for authorized activities that benefited one or more National Park System areas, contributed towards at least one of the Director's Call to Action goals, required little or no additional recurring NPS operating or maintenance funds to be sustainable, did not include the construction of new facilities; and have partner(s) who were ready, willing, and able to contribute at least 50 percent of the project. Once submitted, projects that were highly evaluated included more than a 1:1 match, impacted multiple parks, included a contribution to Centennial goals, particularly youth engagement, and they addressed high priority deferred maintenance needs.
The Centennial Challenge Grants are part of a multi-year effort to prepare for the 2016 Centennial of the National Park Service including the Find Your Park Campaign which connects a broader audience to public lands and President Obama's Every Kid in a Park initiative that will give every fourth grader and their families free access to national parks and all federal lands and waters for a full year, beginning this fall.
For more information about recreation opportunities in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, call (423) 286-7275.