Pick your park


The leaves are changing colors, temperatures are cooling and each week it’s getting darker a bit earlier than the last. It’s been just over a month since the seasons changed. Have you visited a national park yet?

For the adventurous bunch who plan to do so before winter’s wrath, visit NationalParks.org, the website of the National Park Foundation.

“Our website is a way to help people connect to their parks,” National Park Foundation Spokesman Mark Shields said. “It’s an online community around the parks, and it gives people the chance to learn more about [them].”

“Our role is to build a connection between the American people and the parks, and we’re bringing that through our website to people on their computers,” he added. “That hasn’t been done before.”

Upon visiting the site, nature lovers are welcomed by the organization’s “This is your land” application, which allows them to pick their favorite national parks, share stories and pictures with other outdoor enthusiasts and plan their next national park adventure.

Launched in September to coincide with the PBS television premier of Ken Burns’ 12-hour, six-part series National Parks: America’s Best Idea, about the birth and evolution of the idea of the national park, the front-page application encourages the public to “explore” the parks, “connect” with others and “take action” to ensure they last.

“We wanted to create an online community,” Shields said. “We believe technology is a great tool to help connect people to their parks.”

Aside from “This is your land,” the site offers “Child’s Play,” a section full of tips for families with children to stay safe and enjoy daylong visits to any national park.

The news section also updates park admirers about nationwide happenings and future events to ensure that no one misses a step.

For example, elementary and middle school children experienced an Electronic Field Trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Nov. 3, when schools in more than 40 states, totaling 3 million students, logged on to interactively visit and learn about the biodiversity of the park.

Site visitors can also read about the upcoming groundbreaking ceremony for the Flight 93 National Memorial, planned in Shanksville, Pa., on Saturday, Nov. 7.

As the charitable partner of the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation works closely with the organization to increase public awareness about the National Park System and “strengthen the enduring connection between the American people and their national parks,” according to the site.

For more information about visiting the national parks, visit NationalParks.org.


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