The National Park Service turned 100 on August 25, 2016, and the entire year was quite a celebration! Throughout 2016, hundreds of millions of you ventured out to Find Your Park-learning, discovering, getting inspired, or simply having fun in national parks. Thank you for joining us!
The Find Your Park party will continue in 2017 as we invite you to continue your own journey to discover national parks and public lands. Share your stories at FindYourPark.com (and EncuentraTuParque.com) and with #FindYourPark / #EncuentraTuParque on social media.
National parks across the system engaged in a variety of activities to prepare for and celebrate the centennial. New River Gorge National River was a big part of this effort. Take a look at what we did and join us as the National Park Service enters a new century in 2017!
In 2012, New River Gorge National River adopted 30 students from a nearby middle school. Currently, these 9th grade students are participating in education programs, service learning projects, and recreation adventures that will teach them about the National Park Service, New River Gorge National River, and their local community. The program is also designed to enable students learn about career opportunities and to develop leadership and communication skills. Read more
National Heritage Areas in five states are implementing a number of innovative education, recreation, and interpretation programs this year thanks to almost $60,000 in special project funds made available by the NPS Northeast Region's NHA Program Office. Read more
Celebrating the Centennial at New River Gorge
Forty-five Junior Rangers found their park adventure at New River Gorge National River's Outdoor Adventure Fest, Saturday, July 25. About 500 people attended the two day event that included a street fair on Saturday at Grandview, a popular park day use area, and a Leave No Trace information booth on Sunday at Canyon Rim Visitor Center. Saturday's street fair highlighted recreational activities at New River and included booths on Water Safety, Rafting and Kayaking, Mountain Bike Safety and Maintenance, Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics, GPS Wayfinding, Digital Photography, Water Quality, and the NPS Junior Ranger Program. Guided walks were offered throughout the day. Children who completed a punch card indicating they'd attended all nine activities were rewarded with a Junior Ranger badge, certificate and a FindYourPark photograph on the park's Flickr site (https://www.flickr.com/photos/newrivergorgenps). Assisting with the event were the National Leave No Trace team, YMCA of Southern West Virginia, Elevation Sports in Beckley, Beckley Camera Club, WV Department of Environmental Protection and the US Army Corp of Engineers.
Students participated in a day of performances and activities that focused on West Virginia's history, which ties into the 4th grade school curriculum. After arriving, students rotated through pop-up stations focusing on Native Americans, early settlers, African American heritage, coal mining, railroading, and timbering. Each class visited the Main Overlook, which provides breathtaking views of the gorge and the river 1,400 feet below. Later all of the students attended a special performance at Theatre West Virginia, an outdoor theater located in the park that has provided musical dramas for over 50 years. After a welcome from New River Gorge Superintendent, Trish Kicklighter, performers with Theatre West Virginia presented short first-person presentations of historical persons significant in WV's history including Gorge Washington, Stonewall Jackson, Mary Draper Ingles, and Devil Anse Hatfield. After the event students ate lunch and then visited the pop-up stations again before heading home.
The park partnered with the Hinton Area Foundation to distribute funding to school districts for bussing, and with Theatre West Virginia to provide a free performance. The park also partnered with the National Coal Heritage Area, History Alive!, and the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum to assist with the pop-up stations. Park staff from all divisions pitched in to make the event a success.
Park staff filmed the event to make it possible for other students throughout the state to participate. Videos of the event will be made available to 4th graders throughout the state. Rangers will visit the schools this spring for a follow up activity.
Check out our YouTube page to see a video of the event.
A variety of experts were on hand to help visitors learn how to play, stay safe, and leave no trace while adventuring in the park. NPS staff provided opportunities for visitors to try out kayaks and stand up paddle boards while US Army Corps of Engineers rangers taught water safety tips and techniques. Wildland fire staff provided fire safety tips and let youngsters knock down "flames". The Subaru Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers helped visitors up their outdoor ethics knowledge and skills. Piney Creek Watershed Association demonstrated why taking care of our watershed is important and the Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority offered recycling tips and information. As if all of this wasn't enough, the YMCA of Southern WV and Active Southern WV helped with suggestions for other healthy ways to utilize the park.
Many thanks to all those who participated and made Outdoor Adventure Fest 2016 a success!
Girl Scout Ranger WeekendIn September of 2016, 18 girl scouts spent the weekend at Camp Brookside Environmental Education Center to earn their Girl Scout Ranger patch. In order to earn this patch, girls must participate in organized educational activities or service projects for a minimum of 10 hours in a national park. Over the course of the weekend the girls learned about New River Gorge National River and the National Park Service through a series of interactive activities including fishing, a stream stomp... macroinvertebrate activity, owl pellet dissection, a leave-no-trace hike, and several art activities. The girls also completed a service project planting trees in an area that had lost trees due to a wind storm. The girls all had the unique opportunity to stay overnight in cabins at the recently opened Camp Brookside Environmental Education Center. The NPS was able to help fund this program through a National Park Foundation grant.
We could not have made the Centennial such a success without help from our volunteers. Volunteers who donated over 201.6 hours in 2016 were awarded with a special Centennial challenge coin. Tyler Wills, a local 14 year old volunteer, assisted the park on nearly all of our Centennial events, helped staff numerous youth activities, and helped maintain the native plant garden at Sandstone Visitor Center. He was awarded a challenge coin after volunteering 212.5 hours.
Read more about Tyler’s experiences at New River Gorge: It was Not Just About a Coin!