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What:In observance of the National Park Service (NPS) centennial this year, travel and tourism industry nonprofit Tourism Cares has opened registration for its 2016 national parks volunteer programs. Tourism Cares’ volunteer opportunities this year include helping the NPS with a planting project on the Mississippi River; removing invasive plants in Washington state’s Mount Rainier National Park; and preparing sites for winter in New York Harbor.
Why It Matters:As the NPS celebrates 100 years of protecting U.S. national parks, it’s a great time for travel industry professionals to get involved to help preserve America’s natural, historical and cultural wonders. NPS sites are often lacking adequate funding, and volunteer programs can be a crucial tool in aiding efforts to maintain the integrity and beauty of the parks.
Fast Facts:- The programs are limited in capacity and will sell out. Visitors can sign up for the following programs on the Tourism Cares website.
- Tourism Cares for the Mississippi River project will take place May 19-20 in Minneapolis. After an evening cruise on the Mississippi River onboard a Padelford steamboat, volunteers will help the NPS the following day with plantings and an invasive species removal project at Coldwater Spring, a former industrial site in transition back to a native oak savannah prairie. The registration fee is $120 for members and $140 for non-members.
- Tourism Cares for Mount Rainier project will take place Sept. 15-16 in Seattle. Volunteers will enjoy a guided tour and reception, along with a talk by novice climber Lou Whitaker, in Mount Rainier National Park. They will also remove invasive species near Paradise and around the perimeter of the park. The registration fee is $120 for members and $140 for non-members.
- Tourism Cares for New York Harbor project will take place Nov. 3-4 in New York City. Volunteers will meet in Manhattan for a hosted reception where they can eat, drink and learn more about Tourism Cares’ project sites before they board ferries to Ellis Island and Governor’s Island, as well as Castle Clinton, to prepare the sites for the winter season. The registration fee is $200 for members and $250 for non-members.
What They Are Saying:According to the organization: “To celebrate the centennial, Tourism Cares is rallying the industry through volunteering and — together — making a solid impact in preserving the natural and cultural resources of the parks for future generations.”