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Contact: Howard Duncan, 423-286-7275
Contact: Effie Houston, 423-569-9778
The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is one of 34 national parks across the country selected to receive a 2013 America's Best Idea grant from the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks. Inspired by the critically acclaimed Ken Burns' documentary "The National Parks: America's Best Idea", the America's Best Idea program funds park activities designed to connect diverse, underserved and under-engaged populations throughout the United States with their national parks in innovative and meaningful ways.
"One of the great things about our national parks is that every American can relate to these treasured places if given the chance to experience them," said Jonathan B. Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service. "It's our mission to engage visitors from all backgrounds in the diverse stories that we tell in our national parks. Thanks to the support of the National Park Foundation, we can propel that outreach, and engage new audiences that would otherwise never have the opportunity to experience a national park."
"The America's Best Idea program gives people - particularly youth - incredible opportunities to connect to our national parks through unique and innovative ways," said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. "From experiences that center on history, the environment and even adventure, we are able to capture the imagination of a new generation of park-goers in ways that benefit their lives and the future of the parks."
For a full listing of participating parks and program descriptions, please visit the National Park Foundation website at www.nationalparks.org. The National Park Foundation was able to offer this grant thanks to LL Bean, the Anschutz Family Foundation, and the Ahmanson Foundation and their generous support of the America's Best Idea program.
The Big South Fork will use the 2013 America's Best Idea grant to provide an interactive educational experience for local school children. A group of 40 fourth and fifth graders and their teachers from the Oneida School District will hike down to Charit Creek Lodge, a rustic backcountry lodge within Big South Fork NRRA, for an overnight stay and a variety of educational programs. Programs will be presented by National Park Service Interpreters and Resource Management Specialists.
Staying overnight at the lodge will allow participants to have a unique experience as the lodge has no electricity or telephones. Students will get a sense of what life in the remote communities of the Big South Fork was like 100 years ago. The setting will be an ideal venue to discuss history, local culture and learn about the natural features of the area.
Charit Creek Lodge and the surrounding Station Camp valley are steeped in history. The area has a feeling of remoteness that harkens back to a much earlier and perhaps more simple time. Humans have had a presence in this rugged landscape for more than 10,000 years. Over time people have shaped the land as it in turn has shaped them. While staying overnight at Charit Creek, park interpreters will engage the group with interpretive storytelling related to the rich history of this remarkable section of the Cumberland Plateau.