The Next 100 Years of Our National Park Service

John Judge
Ryan SmithAMC’s president, John Judge, reflects on the shared challenges and goals of AMC and the National Park Service.

The filmmaker Ken Burns subtitled his documentary on the national parks “America’s Best Idea,” after a quote by the writer Wallace Stegner, and it’s hard to argue the point. It is through the national parks that we come to discover the jaw-dropping beauty of some of America’s best-loved places, and where we find the irresistible tug and palpable power of nature.

AMC is grateful to the Park Service for giving us the opportunity to share these special places with others, through our activities, huts, lodges, and camps at Acadia National Park, Delaware Water Gap, and along the Appalachian and New England National Scenic trails, as well as through our August Camp and Adventure Travel programs.

On the occasion of its 2016 centennial, the Park Service has issued a plan entitled “A Call to Action”, and it strikes me how many components mirror AMC’s own vision and goals. As organizations committed to connecting people to the outdoors, and as land managers engaged in conservation, NPS and AMC face similar challenges, including uncertain public resources, changing climate patterns, and a growing array of pursuits competing for people’s time.

Among its goals for its second century, NPS seeks to forge a life-long connection between people and parks through recreational, educational, volunteer, and work experiences. Through our partnerships with NPS and other federal, state, and local agencies, AMC helps people discover the magic of the outdoors and is increasingly focused on bringing in younger participants, as well as on building bridges between our family and teen programs and opportunities for job training and full-time employment.

Just as NPS seeks to advance its educational mission and to foster citizen involvement, AMC continues to integrate environmental education and stewardship into all of our outdoor experiences. For example, we engage our community in environmental policy issues through our Conservation Action Network and in hands-on citizen science through our Mountain Watch program.

“A Call to Action” notes the threats posed by climate change and the importance of science in land-use planning and policy. AMC’s scientific research improves the public’s understanding of the impacts of climate change and pollution, and it informs our policy positions on energy project siting, land conservation, and alternative energy.

The Park Service recognizes it must remain relevant, appealing to people with a broad range of interests and experiences. In its Urban Agenda initiative, NPS is focusing on getting people outdoors in urban national parks near large population centers. AMC also continues to grow its capacity to serve urban communities through efforts such as Outdoors Rx and Youth Opportunities Program.

Since its founding, AMC has been a leader in advocating for national parks. We congratulate NPS on its important milestone and on its strides toward our shared goals. We look forward to the next 100 years of collaboration.


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John D. Judge, President

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