We appreciate that partners and park managers continue to work cooperatively to address the rapidly evolving situation associated with the novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) to ensure guest, customer, and employee safety and health and to provide clear and accurate communications to our visitors and customers.
As the situation evolves, we will use this space to provide updates about the other matters that are of importance to this community as well as continuing to include critical updates to the NPS public health response.
Aligning Our Invitation to the Public
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the NPS has been engaged in messaging around safe and responsible visitation. A new social media campaign, #RecreateResponsibly, supports the global effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and shares more familiar messages such as Leave No Trace. In parks as well as in the digital space, staff and partners have posted signs and shared informational graphics as public health reminders. Operational/on-site partners can work with partner parks to access and print these signs, materials, and graphics. Additional information is on the Recreate Responsibly page on NPS.gov, including tips for planning a park visit. Please share these messages with your customers and audiences.
Find Your “Virtual” Park
As many of us find ourselves “parked” at home, we’re encouraging our visitors to find us in the digital space, to Find Your “Virtual” Park. From webcams to kids activities, live tours, and more, parks and the partner community can invite our visitors to visit us virtually. Partners can work with their partner parks to offer additional activities and we’ll add more as we go along, so check back!
What Partners Can Do During the NPS Response
We ask for your assistance in several ways:
Information Being Provided to Your Customers. Our Washington Office of Communications, in coordination with the Department of the Interior Communications Office, is working closely with regional and park public information officers (PIOs) to respond to media and public inquires. We request that you work with your NPS park contacts as you normally would to review information you are communicating with your customers. They will quickly respond to your requests.
Safety and Health Practices. Partners should utilize the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and practice the preventive measures discussed in their guidance.
Possible Exposure. If you have employees, guests, or customers who report a possible exposure, suspect or confirmed case of illness from the COVID-19 virus, please immediately contact the park so that they can work with you to coordinate with public health authorities.
Changes in Your Operations. As always, when you make changes in your operations—whether reducing, closing, or resuming your operations—please work with your park manager, or appropriate regional offices if your operations cover multiple regions, before taking that action. They will help work through any considerations, logistics, notifications, and communications.
Where to Find Other Information
Coronavirus Relief Options
- The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides information about their relief options and additional resources and local training opportunities on their programs.
- Many partner associations -- for example, the National Park Service Friends Alliance, the Public Lands Alliance, the Outdoor Industry Association, the River Network, and the Partnership for the National Trails System to name just a few -- as well as industry publications have pulled together resources for more targeted communities.
- Finally, your state association of nonprofits will have local resources. The National Council of Nonprofits has a portal to state associations and a compilation of resources.
Information for Operational Partners (concessioners, youth service corps, cooperating associations, philanthropic partners)
- There is guidance regarding housing in parks, including concessions staff and youth service corps organizations.
- Information about annual reporting for concessioners is available on the concessions website.
- Cooperating association staff, as well as NPS employees, volunteers, and other partners—often engage in meaningful, positive conversations and dialogue with visitors throughout our parks. Occasionally, however, a situation that requires practiced skills in de-escalation may arise. Conflict de-escalation strategies can make all the difference in these circumstances. (Registration is available through your park partner.)
- Discussion Guides also provide techniques and insights for keeping lines of communication open with visitors and invite mutual learning. (Registration is available through your park partner.)
- Annual financial reporting for cooperating associations: Due to changes in changes in tax filing deadlines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, NPS will delay its annual call for financial reports from cooperating associations. The request for 2019 financial reports will not be issued before August 15, 2020. Information about nonprofits’ new tax filing deadlines and answers to frequently asked questions are available on the IRS website.
Administrative Relief to Financial Assistance Recipients
The Office of Management and Budget has published M-20-17 to enable agencies to provide administrative relief to financial assistance recipients affected by the loss of operational capacity and increased costs due to the COVID-19 crisis. If you have a grant or cooperative agreement and you need to discuss projects that will need to be extended, postponed, or cancelled, please get in touch with your Federal Financial Assistance Awarding Officer for further information and guidance.
Partner organizations that manage volunteers should be in touch with the local NPS VIP coordinator or park manager for updates or with questions. If your work is done under a grant or cooperative agreement and you have additional questions, please contact your Federal Assistance Awarding Officer.
As always, the partnership teams across the National Park Service are ready to assist. Please let us know how we can help you navigate the many changes happening around us.
Last updated: July 16, 2020