Recognizes an individual or organization that has made an extraordinary contribution at a state, regional or national level, furthering a goal of a system of state parks. This year's award winners are:
Mr. Tommy Wyche
Tommy Wyche's determined, passionate and creative leadership for nearly 40 years is responsible for one of the most significant conservation achievements in United States history- the protection of more than 100,000 acres of the Blue Ridge Escarpment in South Carolina. Iconic places, such as Jones Gap State Park, Caesar's Head State Park and the Jocassee Gorges, owe their existence to Tommy and his extraordinary work. Much of his advocacy for the protection of the South Carolina mountains has been done through six best-selling books of his own nature photography. Most recently, Tommy has been involved with the Nature Conservancy to secure 600 additional acres of pristine mountain property in northern Greenville County. He has donated hundreds of acres to the state park system in the last few years and continues to be a strong advocate for land protection and state parks.
Friends of Bay City State Recreation Area, Michigan
Since 1994, the Friends of Bay City State Recreation Area has been a stalwart supporter and advocate as well as demonstrated how friends' groups can be effective in helping fulfill the mission and goals of a state park. Examples of their efforts include raising $400,000 in funds to purchase and install a playscape and a soon-to-open spray park. The friends 'group is composed of many concerned citizens who support environmental education and promote conservation, use and enjoyment of the park. The Friends of the Bay City State Recreation Area have a unique partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as a sponsor of interpretive and park projects and as a provider of services which supplement and complement those offered by the department.
Missouri Parks Association
The Missouri Parks Association, a non-profit citizens' organization, is dedicated to the protection, enhancement and interpretation of Missouri state parks and historic sites. They have fulfilled this mission for the past
40 years in a variety of roles with one of their strongest efforts being to maintain and enhance funding for the state park system. The Missouri Parks Association was a driving force in the creation of the state parks system's dedicated primary funding source, which is half of a one-tenth-of-one-percent sales tax. The association continues to be a leading advocate in ensuring the passage of this dedicated funding source in subsequent renewals on statewide ballots. The MPA is now on a mission to find a way to fund much-needed maintenance and improvement projects that remain despite the sales tax revenue. Although a statewide bond issue was not successful in the 20ll legislative session, the group continues to campaign for the special bond issue and build support for 2012 session in January.
Friends of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites
The support and leadership provided by Friends of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites has been invaluable to the Georgia state system. In many ways, the group is responsible for ensuring the success of the system and for preventing more-severe budget losses due to the troubled economy. In 2011, the friends provided $2.2 million worth of volunteer and direct program support and launched a statewide initiative known as "Save My State Parks" to advance awareness about the budget situation facing state parks. In just two years, the organization grew from 28 chapters in 2008 to 52 chapters in 2010 and membership grew from 7,600 to 12,000. In 2010, Friends increased their volunteer efforts by almost 40 percent more than the previous year. In 2010, the friends made more than $100,000 available to chapters to support critical projects and programs, such as upgrading telecommunications equipment, establishing new campsites, renovating and building new site equipment, and repairing popular trails. A year later, $260,209 was made available.
PARK HISTORY AWARD
Recognizes an individual, team, academic institution or organization that has displayed outstanding efforts in original research and presentation of state park history that results in a tangible work product.
Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
The Esplanade Centennial Anniversary Interpretive Trail was created by staff in the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation to celebrate the momentous 100th anniversary of the Charles River Esplanade in Boston. The Esplanade was created from 1905-1910 to provide a promenade along the Charles River as part of the Charles River dam project. The Esplanade, which stretches almost three miles along the Boston shore of the Charles River, attracts about 3 million visitors each year. The agency formed an Esplanade Centennial Education Program Committee as one of four committees to promote the Centennial. Twenty-seven wayside markers along the river tell the story of this man-made park and the many prominent figures who have played a role in shaping The Esplanade. These
waysides include photographs and language describing the historical moment, infrastructure, monument or view of that particular location. Visitors can enjoy a stroll back in time and discover the history and design of this park that is part of Boston's defining character.
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD
Recognizes a state park director who has demonstrated a long-term sustained record of professional accomplishment in the field of parks and recreation management. Each year, the identity of the recipient is revealed at the annual awards banquet. This year's award winner is:
Greg Butts, Arkansas
Over the past 10 years, John Good, executive director of Canadian Parks Council, has been an enthusiastic participant and good friend to NASPD. During his tenure, he facilitated an era of unprecedented communication and partnership with NASPD and its members by sharing the results of CPC research and projects on issues ranging from the benefits of parks to Healthy by Nature to climate change to the CPC's Park System Leadership Course. John encouraged CPC membership to participate in activities conducted by NASPD and facilitated a strong bond between the two organizations with a rare combination of professional commitment, warm friendship, gentle prodding and uncommon grace.
BEAR TRAP AWARD
Courtland Nelson, Minnesota