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Helping State and Local Government

State and local parks have been created through federal assistance--projects conceived and carried out by local areas to serve their own needs. These needs range from Little League baseball diamonds to large state parks to riverways purchased with federal grants and matching dollars from state and local levels.

In Delaware, Land and Water Conservation Fund monies were used to establish the entire state park system, including 26 miles of beautiful beaches that attract people from a five-state area.

Greenways--those "long skinny parks"--have emerged as key connectors in the park systems of the nation's metropolitan areas. For example, an integral part of Chattanooga, Tennessee's nationally recognized renaissance was the creation of a greenway system, developed over six years with Park Service assistance. By early 1995, 22 partners (ranging from national corporations and agencies to local governments and foundations) had contributed $2.9 million to establish a regional network of streamside trails, bike paths, and connecting natural areas.

The Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Grant Program supports recreation in urban areas and rewards creative thinking with "innovation grants." Some results: a City-Fit program for health and fitness in New Rochelle, New York; Adapted Boating for people with disabilities in Oakland, California; and the Senior Citizens Maintenance Corps that hires vigorous part-time workers for parks in Revere, Massachusetts.

Helping Communities Help Themselves

The nation has conservation goals that far exceed the capacity of the federal government to address through inclusion in the National Park System. Instead, the National Park Service supports these conservation goals through seed money, recognition programs, and technical assistance to communities that seek our help.

Our technical assistance springs from long years of success in caring for the National Park System. Communities across the nation ask for and receive our help in establishing new trail systems, restoring degraded rivers in urbanized areas, and acquiring federal surplus lands for parks and recreation. We also assist communities with protecting historic and cultural places important to them. This assistance often results in better protection for related national park lands.

In south central Kentucky, the National Park Service joined with local communities, the Farmers Home Administration (FmHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to construct a regional sewer system to protect groundwater resources important to the cities, industries, and the subterranean aquatic environment. A $4 million NPS appropriation, when co-mingled with grants and loans from the states, the FmHA and the EPA, funded construction of a regional system that ensures economic sustainability for three small cities and protects the aquatic resources of Mammoth Cave National Park.

Heritage areas are a new form of partnership to conserve settled landscapes--farmland, cities, and industrial areas--that tell the stories of how our country evolved. They are managed locally and the land is not owned by the federal government. The Service provides modest assistance for a set number of years to designated areas. Speaking of the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor, the president of the Joliet/Will County Center for Economic Development states: "Being in the Corridor is one of our selling points. It's one of the amenities we can offer in terms of quality of life."

In Juneau, Alaska, a public-private ownership was able to revitalize the city's downtown after a survey supported nominations to the National Register of Historic Places. This effort resulted in rehabilitation of buildings, sidewalk improvements, and increased citizen participation in local planning.

"Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation has watched with great satisfaction the growing participation of communities in the Genesee Valley Greenway Movement. Our company is proud to work with partners such as the National Park Service and New York Parks and Conservation Association, who do so much good for the development of recreational opportunities and for the environment." (Thomas Swartz, Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation)

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Last Updated: Thursday, 24-Apr-97 08:32:23