Camping World Acquires RV Dealerships in Texas and Missouri

Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC announces that it has signed agreements to acquire two existing RV dealerships during the next 30 to 60 days: Camper Coaches in Lubbock, Texas and Nationwide RV in Grain Valley, Missouri.

CW-GS-Combo-Logo-Print1The new supercenters will offer a wide array of RV sales, service, collision, parts, and accessories for outdoor enthusiasts while featuring motorhomes and towables from a variety of manufacturers.

On the accessory side these locations will feature new and innovative products including interactive displays and customer experiences from many RV industry suppliers as well as Camping World’s own private label lines of exclusive products for the RV, outdoor, and home markets.

Camping World said it would be adding additional positions for seasoned and professional RV sales associates, technicians, and retail support at both facilities and is pleased to have the current employees join the Camping World staff.

The company is also set to soon announce acquisition of additional RV dealerships across the country. Camping World’s goal is to add more quality manufacturers and brands, increase their presence in the market, and grow the workforce.

Camper Coaches in Lubbock, Texas

Plans are for the location to undergo expansion to renovate into larger facility including additional service bays, a new Camping World retail store, and a state-of-the-art collision center.

“We are pleased to begin the acquisition of Camper Coaches and expand our market share throughout Texas as well as nearby New Mexico and Oklahoma,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam in a news release.

Camping World of Asheville, located at 2918 North Rugby Road in Hendersonville, NC offers convenient access for travelers at exit 44 on Highway 26 and will encompass both a Camping World retail store and Camping World RV Sales dealership. (Source: goodsamclub.com)
Camping World of Asheville, located at 2918 North Rugby Road in Hendersonville, NC offers convenient access for travelers at exit 44 on Highway 26 and will encompass both a Camping World retail store and Camping World RV Sales dealership. (Source: goodsamclub.com)

“We expect the Lubbock market to allow us to broaden our customer reach, build upon our market leadership position in recreational sales, and make Camping World the leading retailer in the growing outdoor market.”

The supercenter will be officially named Camping World of Lubbock and located at 1701 South Loop 289, with easy access off I-27.

“Our goal is to add more quality manufacturers and brands, increase our presence in the market, and grow the workforce.”

The Camping World of Lubbock is the fourth full service location in Texas for Camping World. The company has supercenters in the San Antonio, El Paso, and Houston markets as well as two stand-alone retail stores in the state.

The new supercenter in the Lubbock market will add to Camping World’s future growth plans and the company expects to soon announce several additional markets of expansion in the state of Texas, said Lemonis.

Nationwide RV in Grain Valley, Missouri

Plans are for the location to undergo expansion including adding additional service bays, a new Camping World retail store and a state-of-the-art collision center.

“The acquisition of the Kansas City location is a perfect strategic fit for us in terms of the location being contiguous to our existing business as well as allowing for expansion and broadening our market share throughout Missouri as well as nearby Kansas and Iowa,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam in a news release.

“I always look for three things – people, process and product – in relation to enhancing our Camping World and Good Sam presence. Our focus is to increase our representation to existing and prospective RV owners and expand our service and product offering.”

camping_world_logoThe supercenter will be officially named Camping World of Kansas City and will be located at 3001 NE Jefferson, with easy access off I-70.

On the accessory side, the new location will feature new and innovative products including interactive displays and customer experiences from the top vendors.

The Camping World of Kansas City is the third location in Missouri for Camping World. The company has a supercenter in the Springfield market and recently announced a new location will open in Columbia in May 2013.

Details

Camping World & Good Sam

Both founded in 1966, Camping World is America’s No. 1 source for RVs, camping accessories, RV maintenance, and repair.

Websites: campingworld.com and goodsam.com

Worth Pondering…

Arguably the best slogan ever written to describe the RV lifestyle comes to mind: Wherever you go, you’re always at home. We have much to be thankful for, including our great RV lifestyle…

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Free Wireless at Missouri State Parks

If you like to camp out, but aren’t quite ready to leave the digital world behind, we have some good news.

Another state park system—Missouri State Parks, a division of the Missouri Department of National Resources—is now offering free wireless Internet access.

People on their annual summer camping trips, can now get away from it all and still stay connected with free Wi-Fi in Missouri state park campgrounds.

Eleven state park campgrounds currently offer free wireless Internet access for guests and visitors and the service will be added to more campgrounds throughout the summer.

“State parks are great places to get away from a hectic schedule but our campers also requested the ability to stay connected. We listened to our customers and are adding complimentary WiFi to the many services we already provide in our state park campgrounds,” said Bill Bryan, director of Missouri State Parks, a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Campgrounds with wireless access are located in the following state parks:

  • Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon
  • Montauk State Park near Salem
  • Roaring River State Park near Cassville
  • Table Rock State Park near Branson
  • Meramec State Park near Sullivan
  • Sam. A. Baker State Park near Patterson
  • Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park in Wildwood
  • Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park near Middlebrook
  • Onondaga Cave State Park near Leasburg
  • Long Branch State Park near Macon
  • Finger Lakes State Park near Columbia

Most parks have full coverage in the campgrounds while others have designated hotspots with coverage. Signs will be posted in the campgrounds indicating where Internet access is located.

Renee Bungart, communications director at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, said the park service plans to have 37 of its 40 parks connected to a wireless service by the end of the year.

The monthly costs associated with providing guests free wireless Internet depends on each park’s size. For example, a smaller park like Babler Park in Wildwood has one 3G connection, which costs $50 a month. Larger parks, with multiple connections, could cost the park system between $200 and $300 a month. The monthly charges don’t include equipment costs, Bungart said.

Results from a 2010 survey indicated campground visitors wanted to stay connected while camping. Survey participants responded that availability of an Internet connection would lead to camping more often and extending their stay.

Wi-Fi availability is just one of the amenities offered in Missouri’s 40 state park campgrounds.

Campgrounds are available for all types of users and range from secluded basic sites to campsites with sewer/electric/water sites. More than 70 percent of the campsites offer electricity. Many campgrounds include modern restrooms, hot showers, dump stations, coin-operated laundry, and firewood.

Details

Missouri State Parks

Camping at Table Rock State Park (Credit: mostateparks.com)

Missouri state parks and historic sites are administered by the Division of State Parks, which is a part of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Its main responsibilities are the administration of the Missouri state park system, and coordination of statewide programs in the areas of outdoor recreation and trails.

The mission of the state park system is to preserve and interpret the state’s most outstanding natural landscapes and cultural landmarks, and to provide outstanding recreational opportunities compatible with those resources.

Missouri’s state park system, which on five occasions has been ranked as one of the top four state park systems in the nation, contains 85 state parks and historic sites plus the Roger Pryor Pioneer Backcountry.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65102

Phone: (800) 334-6946

Website: mostateparks.com

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Worth Pondering…

We all live under the same sky, but we don’t all have the same horizon.
—Konrad Adenaur

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Vote for Your Favorite Park 2012

The third annual America Is Your Park campaign was launched last week (May 23) by Coca-Cola Live Positively.

Parks are the anchors of our communities, providing places for friends, families, and neighbors to be active and enjoy the outdoors together. Last year, park supporters cast more than 13 million votes for their favorite park to win money for improvements.

America Is Your Park campaign empowers people to rally their communities and get out the vote to select America’s Favorite Park.

Slides, park swings, see-saws, and open play spaces all stand to benefit in the third-annual America Is Your Park campaign.

With the click of a button, park goers can change their communities by voting for their favorite park to win the title of “America’s Favorite Park.” Also at stake is a $100,000 recreation grant made possible by the Coca-Cola Live Positively initiative.

“Parks are the anchors of our communities, but budget cuts have left them with little funds for restoration,” said Celeste Bottorff, Vice President, Living Well, Coca-Cola North America.

“Through the Coca-Cola America Is Your Park campaign, a small action today can turn your favorite park into a better place to play tomorrow. So whether it’s an evening walk or a day of family fun, get out and play in the park—and vote to help your favorite win.”

Voting for “America’s Favorite Park” is easy!

With just the click of a button, people can vote for their favorite park at LivePositively.com/parks.

Park lovers earn one vote per click for their favorite park—and can also earn 100 votes each time they “check in” from the park. More details on how to vote from the park are available on the website.

The three parks that receive the most votes by July 15, 2012 will be awarded recreation grants in the following amounts:

  • First Place – $100,000
  • Second Place – $50,000
  • Third Place – $25,000

In addition, a $15,000 grant will be awarded at random to another park that places in one of the remaining top 25 spots. These recreation grants are provided to help restore, rebuild, or enhance activity areas in parks where people can play and be active.

Park supporters can vote for their favorite park by:

  • Going online (via computer or smartphone) to LivePositively.com/parks (1 vote each)
  • “Checking in” from the park (100 votes each)

The America Is Your Park campaign was developed in collaboration with the National Park Foundation, America’s State Parks, and the National Recreation and Park Association.

Currently, the top 5 parks are:

  • Swift-Cantrell Park, Kennesaw, Georgia (539,013 votes)
  • Bastrop State Park, Bastrop, Texas (523,602 votes)
  • Parr Hill Park, Joplin, Missouri (310,424)
  • Jekyll Island State Park, Jekyll Island, Georgia (143,250 votes)
  • Sweetwater Creek State Park, Lithia Springs, Georgia (142,432 votes)

The Story of Last Year’s Winner Inspires Communities in 2012
It takes a community to save a park! The 2011 winner, Oak Park, is a great example of a community that banded together to rock the park vote.

After a flood destroyed this beloved park in the small town of Minot, North Dakota, residents organized to get out the vote. They urged neighbors to join in, organized voting drives, and spread their message through online communities. Hometown celebrities also energized their social networks, and their fans responded by supporting the cause.

The $100,000 grant is being used to help rebuild the park so families can enjoy the outdoors once again.

“Residents of Minot pulled out all the stops to get people involved,” said Ron Bieri, Minot Park Board President.

Related Stories

Worth Pondering…

I love the winning, I can take the losing, but most of all I love to play.

—Boris Becker

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2011 National Park Holiday Celebrations

‘Tis the season! From Alaska to Georgia, there are countless holiday activities to enjoy in America’s national parks.

The National Park Foundation and National Park Service kicks-off the holiday season in Washington, D.C.’s President’s Park with the National Christmas Tree Lighting. This annual event can be seen LIVE December 1, beginning with the pre-show at 4:30 pm ET.

In addition to this 89 year-old tradition, the National Park Foundation reveals some of not-to-be-missed holiday festivities for national park visitors around the country this holiday season:

Alaska – Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

December 2, 2011: Join in the holiday cheer with performances by local talent, sing along carols, stories, poems, and refreshments at the Yuletide Christmas Concert in the National Park Service Auditorium.

Colorado – Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site

December 2-3: Witness the joys, pleasures, and pastimes of the 1840s at an isolated trading post with candlelight tours of the fort.

Georgia – Fort Pulaski National Monument

November 27: Fort Pulaski will commemorate the 149th anniversary of the Grand Thanksgiving Fete and Festival of 1862 by recreating the 48th New York Infantry first Thanksgiving in the fort with activities for all ages including foot, sack and wheelbarrow races, demonstrations, and a Civil War garb burlesque parade.

Indiana – Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

December 10: Visitors can take part in Holiday Traditions in the Dunes including activities in four different park locations, tree decorating, and a live performance from Nordic Kids.

Iowa – Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

December 2-4: The birthplace of Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States, will host A Christmas Past.

Louisiana – Cane River Creole National Historical Park

December 10: Stop by the Magnolia Plantation Overseer’s house for Christmas crafts and live music by the LaCour Trio. The entire plantation complex will be open for self guided tours.

Missouri – Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

December 3, 10, 17: Enjoy the 2011 Historic Holiday Traditions Weekend Series. The Historical Old Courthouse will feature music and activities that will take place in the rotunda, which will be adorned beautifully with Victorian decorations. Complimentary cookies and juice will be served during all weekend events.

Montana – Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

December 4: Explore the elegant Kohrs’ family ranch house. It will be decorated to reflect a Victorian Christmas.

Nebraska – Homestead National Monument of America

November 25-December 31: The Winter Festival of Prairie Cultures celebrates the winter traditions of people who lived on the Great Plains during the homesteading era.

New Mexico – Petroglyph National Monument

November 26: Visitors can celebrate the beginning of the 2011 winter season at a Holiday Open House in the Visitor Center. Light holiday refreshments will also be served. A traditional horno oven Pueblo Indian bread baking demonstration will take place.

Let's Go RVing to Petroglyph National Monument. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

New York – Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site

November 25-December 21: Visit the Vanderbilt Mansion to view the holiday decorations; or kick off the holiday season at the special Holiday Open House on December 4.

Ohio – Cuyahoga Valley National Park

November 17-December 20: Journey to the North Pole on The Polar Express Children’s Holiday Train. Enjoy hearing a reading of The Polar Express en route to the North Pole. Passengers are encouraged to wear their pajamas. Cookies and hot chocolate are served.

Pennsylvania – Steamtown National Historic Site

November 23, 24, December 1: Join in the merriment and festivities aboard the steam-powered Holiday Express rides to Moscow, Pennsylvania. Enjoy holiday songs, stories, and other fun activities for the children at both the former passenger station and freight depots.

Utah – Golden Spoke National Historic Site

Let's Go RVing to Vanderbilt National Historic Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

December 28–30: Visitors can take part in the annual Winter Steam Festival and watch one of their locomotives in action at the same spot where the transcontinental railroad was completed over 142 years ago.

Washington – Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Friday evenings through mid-December: Visitors take park in a guided lantern tour through the Fur Store, the Counting House, and Bake House. You will learn what activities would have occurred once the sun set at Fort Vancouver

Details

National Parks Service

84 million acres of the world’s most treasured memorials, landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites are protected in America’s nearly 400 national parks.

Website: nps.gov

National Park Foundation

The National Park Foundation is the national charitable partner of the National Park Service.

Website: nationalparks.org

Worth Pondering…

We didn’t inherit the earth; we are borrowing it from our children.

—Native American Proverb

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2011 Top 10 Great Streets in America

The Great Streets designation is part of the American Planning Association (APA) Great Places in America program, which began in 2007 and recognizes unique and exemplary streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces each year.

Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, California

Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. (Credit: panoramio.com)

There was a time, not too long ago, where “you took your life in your hands just to cross Santa Monica Boulevard,” said Jeff Prang, a member of the West Hollywood City Council. Today, this reconstructed main street embraces pedestrians, linking them to neighborhoods, landmarks, and traditions.

U Street N.W., Washington, District of Columbia

In 2009 when president-elect Barack Obama ordered a chili half-smoke at the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl along U Street N.W., crowds flocked to the legendary eatery and the street it has anchored since 1958. U Street has gone through difficult times. Today the street is pulsing again with the music, businesses and life.

Front Street, Lahaina, Hawaii

Front Street packs in everything that makes Lahaina, Lahaina: wooden storefronts, second-story balconies, public parks, art galleries, eateries, residential quarters, whale-watching tourists, divine views of the majestic West Maui Mountains, Lahaina Harbor and island of Lanai, and an archeological site dating to the year 700.

Main Street, Galena, Illinois

Once known as a great place to discover antiques, Galena and the surrounding rural communities in Jo Daviess County have grown into a haven for craft artisans, outdoor sports enthusiasts and nature lovers. (Credit: loghome.com)

Its alignment shaped by steep hills rising up from the banks of the Galena River, Main Street presents a nearly unbroken line of 140 buildings from the 19th century that help Galena live up to its reputation as “the town time forgot.” A destination for more than a million visitors each year, only cosmetic changes have affected the three- to four-story buildings that were reconstructed along Main Street following fires in the 1850s.

Main Street, Nantucket, Massachusetts

Round, uneven cobblestones pavers bring an immediate sense of history and intimacy to Main Street. Church spires, tree-shaded Greek Revival mansions, and the town’s waterfront frame the views up and down the street. More than two dozen sidewalk benches, located next to the “Hub” and the local drug store, invite residents and visitors alike to sit and visit, watch the comings and goings of downtown Nantucket.

Washington Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri

Once mostly vacant and deteriorating, Washington Avenue today has reversed decades of urban decline to become one of St. Louis’s most popular districts. A virtual museum of late 19th and early 20th century warehouse architecture clad in brick, stone, and terra cotta, this monumental corridor imparts one of St. Louis’s most cohesive vistas.

Market Street and Market Square, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

A public lottery held in 1762 paid for paving the Market Square in Portsmouth. In the 250 years since, the square and three streets originating from it—Market Street, Pleasant Street, and Congress Street—have remained the hub of downtown commerce and community life year-round.

Davis Street, Culpeper, Virginia

When a bypass for U.S. Route 29 took travelers out of downtown Culpeper in the 1960s, businesses in the 200-year-old town closed, and crime plagued streets originally surveyed by a young George Washington. When Norfolk Southern prepared to demolish part of the historic train depot in 1985, residents and downtown business owners joined together to save the building. The effort led to a much larger revitalization effort that saw quick results: in 1993 Culpeper was named one of “America’s Top 10 Small Towns.”

King Street, Alexandria, Virginia

Historic, vibrant, and eclectic, King Street has been enhanced by active planning and implementation through its evolution from an 18th century colonial seaport and 19th century center of trade to a center of 21st century commerce and tourism. Planning and preservation have ensured that King Street, part of the “Old and Historic District” in Alexandria’s “Old Town” neighborhood, balances the past with the present.

Downtown Woodstock Streetscape, Woodstock, Vermont

The American Planning Association just named the downtown Woodstock streetscape one of the top ten great streets in America. (Credit: thebluehorseinn.com)

Downtown Woodstock’s four principal streets—Central, Elm, North Park, and South Park—bring together scenic mountain skylines, early 19th century New England architecture, the center of community life, and 250 years of history.

Details

American Planning Association (APA)

The American Planning Association (APA) is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities.

Website: planning.org

Note: This is the last of a three-part series on the American Planning Association (APA) Great Places in America program.

Part 1: 2011 Top 10 Great Public Spaces in America

Part 2: 2011 Top 10 Great Neighborhoods in America

Worth Pondering…
Whether you stay six weeks, six months, or six years, always leave it better than you found it.

—Jim Rohn Enhance

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Tri-State Casino Plans to Add RV Park

Located in the Tri-State district where the Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas state borders meet, Downstream Casino Resort is expanding further into the Missouri side of its property with a RV park, and a 24-hour gas station, convenience, and liquor store.

Downstream C-Store and RV Park Complex will expand further into Missouri. (Credit: Downstream Casino Resort)

Downstream Development Authority, on behalf of the Quapaw Tribe, opened Phase I of the resort in July 2008. The casino employs about 1,050 team members, IndianCountryTodayMedia.com reported.

The new complex, slated to open in March, is expected to boost the Joplin, Missouri, regional economy with construction work and about 20 new permanent jobs. Downstream added 40 new jobs earlier this year when it opened its child care, and learning center on the Oklahoma side of the resort.

“One of these days we would like to expand on the Kansas side too,” said John Berrey, chairman of the Downstream Development Authority. “We have always planned that Downstream would be a hub for economic development and creating good jobs in the Tri-State region.”

Rendering of the Downstream gas station, convenience and liquor store. (Credit: Downstream Casino Resort)

The C-store complex will occupy about 10 acres across from Downstream’s main entrance. Plans also call for 40 RV camping sites with utility hook-ups and a shower and laundry building; at least 22 parking spaces for semi tractor-trailer trucks; four diesel fuel pumps and six gasoline pumps; and an 8,000-square-foot convenience and liquor store with an outdoor dining area and drive-through window. The gas station will likely be branded under one of the popular national brand names, said Downstream General Manager Steven Drewes in a press release.

“We are finalizing many of the details this week while the land is being cleared and prepared, and construction should begin next month,” Drewes said. “We should be ready to open in March.”

Details

Downstream Casino Resort

Website: downstreamcasino.com

Quapaw Tribe

Address: 5681 South 630 Road, Quapaw, OK 74363

Website: quapawtribe.com

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America Is Your Park

For more than 40 years, Coca-Cola has supported America’s parks through partnerships with individual parks and national park organizations. The Company has donated more than $14 million for restoration and renovation of our country’s parks through programs like America Is Your Park.

Explore the depths of Soudan Underground Mine as a caged elevator lowers you a half-mile underground to the 27th level and into the heart of the mine. An electric train ride brings visitors to the last and deepest area mined, unchanged from when the mine closed in 1963. (Credit: dnr.state.mn.us)

In addition to donating $175,000 to the top three winning parks—Oak Park (Minot, North Dakota), Soudan Underground Mine State Park (Minnesota), and Cunningham Park (Joplin, Missouri)—Coca-Cola also gave $70,000 in grants to national, state, and local parks this summer at health and wellness events in select cities across the country. These events featured Women’s National Basketball Association FIT Clinics, appearances from local dignitaries, and grant presentations.

Other parks that made it into the top ten include:

  • Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park, Tennessee
  • Jekyll Island State Park, Georgia
  • McGrath State Beach, California
  • Mason Neck State Park, Virginia
  • Lake Warren State Park, South Carolina
  • Ponca State Park, Ponca, Nebraska
  • Amicalola Falls State Park, Georgia

About the Winning Parks

Oak Park

Oak Park is owned and operated by the Minot Park District. Before it was damaged by a flood in 2011, it served as a gathering place for families, with a splash park, picnic shelters, walking trails, an accessible playground (Magic Smiles Playground), sand volleyball court, and other amenities. The park plans to use the $100,000 recreation grant to help restore the park so families can be active together again.

Soudan Underground Mine State Park. (Credit: dnr.state.mn.us)

Website: minotparks.com

Soudan Underground Mine State Park

Soudan Underground Mine State Park near Ely is home to Minnesota’s oldest iron ore mine, which operated from 1882 until 1962. In recent years, approximately 30,000 visitors annually have donned hard hats and descended a half-mile underground in a cage to take part in the interpretive programs within the historic mine.

The park also offers tours of an underground physics lab, where scientists from around the world are studying how the universe works. Underground tours are not available at this time due to ongoing repair work from a fire in March 2011, but above-ground opportunities include interpretive programs, hiking, and geocaching.

Website: dnr.state.mn.us

Cunningham Park

Cunningham Park is Joplin’s first city park, located in the southwest section of the city. On May 22, 2011, Cunningham was completely destroyed by a tornado that left the community without the tennis and basketball courts, playground, and pool that made the park so popular. The park plans to use the $25,000 recreation grant to rebuild the playground and picnic shelters, plant trees, and build a memorial dedicated to tornado victims and the many volunteers that aided in rescue and recovery.

Website: joplinparks.org

Related

Note: This is the second of a two-part series on the second annual America Is Your Park campaign

Part 1: North Dakota Park Wins 2012 National Contest

Worth Pondering…

The key to happiness is realizing that it’s not what happens to you that matters, it’s how you choose to respond.

—Keith D. Harrell

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North Dakota Park Wins 2011 National Contest

When Coca-Cola encouraged American families to be active outdoors this summer, LivePositively, and vote for their favorite park, millions responded.

The second annual America Is Your Park campaign energized millions to get outdoors and rally around parks hit by natural disasters while igniting a fierce competition online, across the airwaves, and in newspapers across the country.

The votes are in and the people have spoken! Over 13 million votes were cast for their favorite parks online and from parks around the country this summer.

Oak Park in Minot, North Dakota emerged as the winner of “America’s Favorite Park” for 2011.

In addition to winning the prestigious title of “America’s Favorite Park,” Oak Park was awarded a $100,000 recreation grant made possible by the Coca-Cola Live Positively initiative.

The contest began to take off after grassroots support generated on Facebook. An enthusiastic group of supports, who dubbed themselves “Oakaholics,” voted thousands of times a day and spread the word for others to do likewise.

Between June 29 and the end of the contest (September 6), Oak Park had received almost 3.25 million votes. Between the end of the contest and Wednesday (September 28), votes were tabulated to insure that they were valid.

The grant money received from the contest will be a helpful boost in the arm for the Minot Park District. In a story that was printed in the July 20 issue of The Minot Daily News, director of parks Ron Merritt said that the funds would help “to put the park together again.”

The Soudan Underground Mine State Park, in Soudan, Minnesota, and Cunningham Park, in Joplin, Missouri, were the second and third place winners and will receive grants for $50,000 and $25,000, respectively.

“America’s parks are cherished places where families and friends can enjoy the natural beauty of the outdoors while being active and having fun,” said L. Celeste Bottorff, Vice President, Living Well, Coca-Cola North America. “This year, our friendly competition saw a number of communities come together to rally support for parks affected by natural disasters. We are honored to have been able to play a role in helping local communities give back to their favorite parks through the America Is Your Park campaign.

The competition to find “America’s Favorite Park” ignited social media platforms, mobilized entire communities, and even caught the attention of celebrities and local dignitaries. For the top three parks, each affected by some form of disaster in recent months, the competition brought additional attention and community support.

“The flood this past summer destroyed Oak Park and, for a large part, the spirit and hope in our community,” said Ron Bieri, President, Minot Park Board. “Thanks to Coca-Cola, the people of Minot are energized and through the grant we will be able to restore the park so families will have a place to play together again.”

Coca-Cola collaborated with the National Park Foundation, America’s State Parks, and the National Recreation and Park Association to award recreation grants to parks across the country. The grants will be used to restore, rebuild, or enhance places for people of all ages to be active outdoors. In addition to millions of online voters, many others came out to local health and wellness events hosted by Coca-Cola in select cities across the country.

Details

The Coca-Cola Company

Globally, the world’s largest provider of sparkling beverages, juices, and juice drinks, and ready-to-drink teas and coffees

Website: thecoca-colacompany.com

National Park Foundation

The official charity of America’s National Parks

Website: nationalparks.org

America’s State Parks

With over 6,000 units and more than 725 million visits, America’s State Parks works to enhance the American quality of life

Website: americasstateparks.org

National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA)

The leading advocacy organization dedicated to the advancement of public parks and recreation opportunities

Website: nrpa.org

Coca-Cola Live Positively

Learn more about Coca-Cola’s efforts in America’s parks

Website: livepositively.com

Note: This is the first of a two-part series on the second annual America Is Your Park campaign

Part 2: America Is Your Park

Worth Pondering…

For all of us have our loved places; all of us have laid claim to parts of the earth; and all of us, whether we know it or not, are in some measure the products of our sense of place.

—Alan Gussow

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State Parks Struggle with Budget Cuts

The recession has legislators across the U.S. looking to cut services—and state parks are often among the first to feel the pain of budget cuts. That has led to closed facilities, reduced services, and fewer rangers.

Camping at Catalina State Park, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“These are tough times nationally,” said Phil McKnelly, executive director of the National Association of State Park Directors. “Most states are experiencing shortfalls.”

He said that many state park systems are in trouble, and most are looking for different ways to operate.

Utah has endured major general fund cuts for the current fiscal year and could face more in the future, reports The Salt Lake Tribune.

“The majority of states are going through similar things in these tough times,” said Utah State Parks Director Mary Tullius. “Unfortunately, this is one of those areas where legislators look when they cut back. Utah seems to be in about the middle of things with some states suffering greater losses and others not so much.”

Closures

Across the country, examples of state park budgets being cut are numerous.

California: During the past six years California has reduced its park’s budget by 43 percent. As a result, 70 of its 278 state parks are slated for closure by July 1, 2012.

 

Stephen C. Foster State Park, Georgia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arizona: The Legislature stripped its park system of voter-approved designated funds and all general taxpayer dollars in 2009, resulting in a loss of 50 percent of its full-time positions, seven parks being turned over to local jurisdictions, increase in entrance fees, and reduction in hours and services. Legislators also diverted $2 million of park gate fees to other uses.

New York: The Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation has proposed closing 41 parks and 14 historic sites and is looking to reduce services at 23 parks and one historic site.

Idaho and Colorado: State park fees were increased and services reduced.

Washington: Park management and administrative staff were cut by 25 percent.

Funding sources

“All states are looking at new models and new ways to generate dollars to offset the descending general funds. A handful of states are down to few, if any, general funds,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the Minnesota State Park system.

The states whose park systems are faring the best are those that have a dedicated source of funding.

Michigan, Washington, and Montana instituted a passport system in which residents pay a nominal fee when they register their vehicle. They receive a license tag that gives them free entrance to state parks.

 

Monahans Sandhills State Park, Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Oregon and Colorado state parks receive money from state lotteries.

Arkansas and Missouri voters approved a small percentage of state sales tax to be used for wildlife and parks programs.

Many states are raising fees for camping, day use, and services such as golf.

Renee Bahl, Arizona state parks director, has used a variety of methods in an effort to keep her state’s financially strapped system operating under a $19 million annual budget that includes no money for capital improvements.

The agency turned some parks over to local governments or Indian tribes to operate. Friends groups have held fundraisers to keep some parks open. About 1,600 volunteers—the equivalent of 100 full-time employees—are working in various capacities.

A big part of the reason that Arizona’s parks have been able to stay open is that many are located in rural communities where the jobs they provide are valuable. Bahl calls parks an economic engine in Arizona that supports 3,300 jobs with an economic impact of $266 million. “And that’s why communities have stepped up to keep parks open. That’s a small amount to pay for economic engines in these rural areas, she said.”

Fighting to survive

Cuts and closures have park officials scrambling to find partnerships with local governments or private friends groups and, when facilities must be closed, looking to keep the most popular facilities operating,

Worth Pondering…
Take time to listen to the voices of the earth and what they mean…the majestic voice of thunder, the winds, the sound of flowing streams. And the voices of living things: the dawn chorus of the birds, the insects that play little fiddles in the grass.

—Rachel Carson

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What do Ohio, Tennessee & British Columbia Have in Common? Part 2

America’s State Parks

Lackawanna State Park, Pennsylvania. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Throughout America, state parks are struggling.

These are your parks. Get out and enjoy them.

What do Ohio, Tennessee & British Columbia Have in Common?

Ohio, Tennessee, and British Columbia are among a handful of a few states and Canadian provinces that DO NOT CHARGE ENTRY FEES to their parks. Admission is also free to park users in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Alberta, and Manitoba.

Park fees vary in other jurisdictions. The following is a sampling of day-use fees currently in place:

Alabama          $1-3/person

Arizona           $2-20/vehicle

California        $3-15/vehicle

Colorado         $7-8/vehicle

Connecticut     $9-22/vehicle

Delaware         $3-8/vehicle

Quail Gate State Park, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Florida             $4/vehicle

Idaho               $5/vehicle

Kansas             $3.70-4.20/vehicle

Massachusetts $2-9/vehicle

Minnesota       $5/vehicle

New Mexico   $5/vehicle

New York       $6-10/vehicle

Montana          $5/vehicle

Ontario            $10.75-19.25/vehicle

Oregon             $5/vehicle; some parks free

Saskatchewan $7/vehicle

Texas               $1-5/person

Utah                $5-10/vehicle

Vermont          $3/person

Wisconsin        $7-10/vehicle

State Park Pass

Shenandonah River State Park, Virginia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The state park entrance pass system works differently in each state. Many states offer some sort of pass that allows for unlimited entry at most state parks, while other offer park passes on a park-by-park basis.

Other State Park News

Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska vetoed a bill that would have increased annual resident permits for state parks and recreation areas from $20 to $25 and nonresident permits from $25 to $30.

Raising fees during these difficult economic times is not the appropriate way to better Nebraska’s state parks, Heineman said in his veto letter. Nebraskans have had to cut their spending, and they expect the same from government, he said.

Details

BC Parks

Washington State Parks

Discovery Pass

The Discovery Pass can be purchased at almost 600 sporting goods stores and other retailers statewide next month. The pass can also be purchased online or by calling 1-866-320-9933. Starting next fall, the state Department of Licensing also plans to sell the pass.

Worth Pondering…
Your travel life has the essence of a dream.

It is something outside the normal, yet you are in it.

It is peopled with characters you have never seen before and in all probability will never see again.

It brings occasional homesickness, and loneliness, and pangs of longing.

But you are like the Vikings or the master mariners of the Elizabethan age, who have gone into a world of adventure, and home is not home until you return.

—Agatha Christie, British mystery writer

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