The North Carolina state parks system has been named one of four finalists for the 2011 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Parks and Recreation Management, the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation announced today.
As a finalist, North Carolina advances to the next round of consideration along with state parks systems in Florida, Missouri and Michigan, with a winner to be announced in October.
The National Gold Medal Award, which is administered by the National Recreation and Parks Association, is the most prestigious award a parks and recreation agency can receive and recognizes service excellence. The Gold Medal Award honors communities and states in the United States that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management and agency recognition. Each agency is judged on its ability to address the needs of those it serves through the collective energies of visitors, staff and elected officials.
Judges for the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration considered criteria including the quality of long-range planning, the response to population and economic trends, the extent of public support, the quality of natural resource protection and the types of services to special population groups.
“With outstanding support from the public and our elected and appointed leaders in North Carolina, our state parks system has grown significantly in size, recreational opportunities, visitation and its contribution to the state’s travel and tourism industry,” said Lewis Ledford, director of the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. “This recognition is testimony to North Carolina’s commitment to natural resource stewardship and a healthy environment and citizenry and is a tribute to all of those who work for and support the efforts of the state parks system.”
NRPA is an organization dedicated to educating professionals and the public on the essential nature of parks and recreation. Through learning opportunities, research and communications initiatives, the organization strives to generate public support to advance the development of the best practices and resources that help make parks and recreation indispensable elements of American communities.
The North Carolina state parks system, which attracts more than 14 million visitors each year, exists for the enjoyment, education, health and inspiration of residents and visitors. A recent economic study by North Carolina State University’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management estimated the state parks system’s total annual economic impact at $419 million. The state parks system manages more than 213,000 acres, including 41 state parks and state recreation areas and a system of state natural areas dedicated to the conservation of rare resources.