MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - From the Alabama State Parks Partners coalition:
Alabama's State Parks Partners is a new coalition that has formed to support the State Parks system. Alabama State Parks Partners have one mission – to highlight Alabama's beautiful state parks and the important role they play in the quality of life in Alabama. The coalition is comprised of businesses, park user groups, nonprofit organizations, tourism boards, and others that have an interest in seeing the Alabama State Parks System flourish.
Much of Alabama's beauty is preserved within its incredible 22 State Parks. The Alabama State Parks Partners will work to help keep Alabama, "Alabama the Beautiful," and ensure that these parks are still available for future generations to enjoy.
"We have come together because the park system relies on its guests and volunteers to sustain their operations," said steering committee chair Philip Darden. "We wanted to find people across the state and throughout the country who support Alabama's state parks and connect them to assist the parks in fundraising efforts, special events, promotions, volunteer efforts and more."
Over the past two years, the Alabama Parks Partners Coalition has been working to formalize and launch the campaign throughout the state and recently did so with the creation of a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/alstateparkspartners.com). The page received over 22,000 "LIKES" in less than two weeks. The coalition shared news and helped thousands of people connect with other parks partners throughout the state to share important information regarding our state parks.
The Alabama Parks Partners have begun a social media campaign to share the importance of the parks and raise awareness of the continued budget crisis. Alabama State Parks Partners are asking people to share a video, photo and/or post about why Alabama's State Parks are important to them with the hashtag #ALParksPartners, and tag three friends to share their experiences at Alabama's state parks and why the parks are important to them.
"Our State Parks are special to the people of Alabama," said steering committee member Bob Baumhower. "They are much more than just places that conserve Alabama's natural beauty and provide citizens of this state an outlet to our great outdoors. These parks bring hundreds of millions of dollars of economic impact to our state – about $375 million each year. The parks attract millions of visitors to our state and about half of the visitors to the state parks are from out of state."
The steering committee is composed of long time park supporters including Bob Baumhower with Aloha Hospitality, Philip Darden with the Central Alabama Mountain Pedalers (CAMP), Sandra Killen-Burroughs with Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourism, Natalie Kelley with Sustain and My Green Birmingham/Montgomery, Jade Patollo, a professor at Jacksonville State University, and Bee Frederick the Southeastern States Manager for the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation.
Alabama State Parks Partners plan to host meetings throughout the state to engage other businesses, organizations and individuals that would like to become involved in this effort to support the State Parks system. The location of those meetings and other details will be released in the coming weeks.
"This was something that was a no brainer for us to support," says Sandra Killen-Burroughs with the Alabama Mountain Lakes Association. "Most anyone that lives in Alabama is in some way impacted by a state park – whether it be in the form of the economic impact these communities receive from the parks to the quality of life benefits our citizens enjoy. We are proud to be a part of this diverse, broad and statewide coalition"