RALEIGH -- The North Carolina state parks system has been named one of four finalists for the 2013 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 Virginia, with a winner to be announced in October. The National Gold Medal Award, which is administered by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with the National Recreation and Parks Association, is the most prestigious award a park and recreation agency can receive and recognizes service excellence. The Gold Medal Award honors communities and states throughout 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 citizens, 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.
“To be a finalist for the Gold Medal Award is a testament to our mission of stewardship and the dedication of our employees and it’s a tribute to all of those who support the efforts of the state parks system,” said Lewis Ledford, state parks director. “It’s also a compliment to our 14 million visitors each year who have been a part of the state parks system’s significant growth and contribution to local economies. That support from the public and their elected and appointed leaders in North Carolina has been vital.”
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, it strives to generate public support to advance the development of 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 all citizens 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 218,000 acres, including 41 state parks and state recreation areas and a system of state natural areas dedicated to conservation of rare resources.
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