The Morton Family, Grandfather Mountain Park, North Carolina
As owners and proprietors of the landmark Grandfather Mountain Park, the Morton family (Julia, Catherine, Jim and Crae), has provided outstanding stewardship of some of North Carolina’s and the nation’s most unique and beautiful natural resources. In 2008, the Morton Family approached the North Carolina state parks system about the long-term preservation and conservation of the property and creation of a state park to provide a source of perpetual management and public access of the property. In September 2008, the state announced plans to acquire 2,456 acres on the landmark mountain from the Morton Family and Grandfather Mountain Inc. The acquisition includes a right of first refusal and conservation easement on 749 acres that will be retained by the heirs of Hugh Morton, the family patriarch who inherited the mountain in 1952 and is credited with developing the park as a tourist destination and endowing it with a strong conservation ethic. In early 2009, leaders approved the acquisition and the General Assembly authorized the creation of North Carolina’s newest state park. The property was conservatively valued at $25 million- making the state's $12 million purchase price a bargain sale, made possible by the altruism and conservation ethic of the Morton Family. The NASPD salutes the Morton Family’s dedication and unique contributions to preserving and protecting Grandfather Mountain Park for future generations to enjoy and cherish.
Blackstone Valley Sugaring Association, Massachusetts
The Blackstone Valley Sugaring Association inspires visitors to “tap” into nature by providing innovative, hands-on programming that invites visitors to learn about maple sugaring! One of the most active Friends groups at the Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park, operated by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Association has devoted thousands of hours of volunteer time to develop programs that benefit the park and its visitors. For the past eight springs, the Association has delighted visitors with free maple sugaring programs that begin with identifying and tapping a sugar maple tree and end with sharing edible maple sugar treats! Visitors learn that they don’t need fancy equipment – milk jugs make great sap buckets! The milk jugs hanging from trees in the park’s neighboring towns are a testament that the Association is making an impact. The program has grown from 35 visitors in 2001 to 4,500 visitors in 2009 and, at the same time, the Association increased its volunteer base from 3 volunteers to 50! These Maple Sugar Days not only connect kids and adults to nature, but they also connect them to a New England tradition, the park and the rich history of the Blackstone River Valley Corridor. One inspired visitor who tried maple sugaring at home reported, “Now my children check their sap buckets before they check their emails!” The NASPD salutes the Blackstone Valley Sugaring Association for their creativity, enthusiasm and dedication to get kids outdoors to learn about and enjoy our parks.
Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Department of the Interior
For the past six years, the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), within the U.S. Department of the Interior, has assisted non-federal partners in developing new and better business practices. BOR has also sponsored training for all partners and developed “how to” guideline documents on managing water-based recreation facilities and activities. BOR staff has shared these publications with the membership of NASPD at our annual meetings. These documents, together with the BOR’s Outdoor Recreation Business Plan Guidebook, have been of tremendous value to BOR’s non-federal partners, 17 of which are state park partners. Also, the Bureau of Reclamation is being recognized for its outstanding work to standardize systems across the western states to help meet the increasing public demands for water based outdoor recreation facilities and opportunities. The NASPD is grateful for the Bureau of Reclamation’s work and partnership with NASPD and looks forward to future collaborations.