Did you know that Virginia has regularly ranked dead last (50th) among the states in terms of state per capita spending on the state park system? And, did you know that, despite being severely underfunded and understaffed, the overall state and local economic impact generated by the state park system in Calendar Year 2009 was more than $175 million? And, did you know that, in 2009, a total of 5,000 volunteers contributed more than 235,500 hours of support to the state park system? Join us to help support Virginia's parks.
The Virginia Association for Parks (VAFP) is the nonprofit umbrella organization for the respective citizen support groups (Friends Groups) and individual volunteers supporting the 36 state parks, 61 state natural areas, and the 22 national parks, monuments, and historic sites located across the Commonwealth.
VAFP is unique in that we know of no other organization that is working towards the goal of a "seamless" park system from a user perspective. Our view is that "a park is a park" regardless of the funding source-national, state, regional, or local.
In keeping with that view, VAFP is supportive of all parks within the Commonwealth. We advocate for park issues at the local, state, and national levels and seek funds through tax deductible gifts, grants, contributions, and other mechanisms to support our operations and invest in parks. We also offer free technical advice and assistance to those who wish to form new citizen support organizations. And, we conduct semi-annual conferences that include training sessions and networking opportunities to exchange ideas.
State monies are not presently available for many park system priorities and, given the present economy accompanied by the history of the perpetually under-funded and under-staffed park system budget, state monies will not be available in the foreseeable future.
Thus, VAFP is seeking other sources to provide the much needed funding for park system priorities. Please consider making a general donation or a targeted donation to one of VAFP's park system projects.
Donations are tax deductible.
To make a donation online using PayPal, click the button below:
To donate by U.S. Mail, make your check payable to Virginia Association for Parks, annotate the check with the purpose of the donation, and mail the check to:Johnny Finch, President
VAFP is working with the Friends Of Belle Isle State Park to raise tax deductible funds to build a "spray ground" or children's water park at Belle Isle. This project is a prototype for Virginia State Parks and following successful construction of this project in partnership with the Friends of Belle Isle State Park we expect to pursue similar projects in other parks that lack suitable water features.
If you would like to make a donation directly to the Belle Isle Spray Ground Initiative using PayPal, please click the donate button below:
Playground equipment designed for 2-5 year olds (toddlers) is needed throughout Virginia's State Park System. The existing playgrounds, with few exceptions, were designed for 5-12 year olds.
The Park System has more than 7 million visitors each year and many families have children in the toddler age range. The Commonwealth has no funds for providing such equipment. Thus, the Virginia Association for Parks (VAFP), a 501(c)(3) organization, is seeking help in funding this equipment need.
Nine state parks have a significant railroad history and/or presence. VAFP would like to obtain the requisite funds for purchasing and installing playground trains for toddlers in these nine parks.
In addition to the playground trains providing excellent platforms for toddler recreation and physical exercise, the combination of the railroad and park histories will provide wonderful opportunities for educational and interpretive programming for all ages.
The Friends of Lake Anna State Park have taken the lead in developing a prototype. They have researched manufacturers, obtained cost estimates, and selected both a product (see above picture) and manufacturer of choice. The Lake Anna State Park Friends Group has raised the requisite funding and the toddler train has been installed in the park.
Between 1830 and 1850, Virginia was the third largest gold producing state in the Nation. Thus, in addition to the playground train providing an excellent platform for toddler recreation and physical exercise, the combination of the goldmine and the playground train will provide wonderful opportunities for educational and interpretive programming for all ages.
The estimated cost per playground is $30,526.85. Thus, the projected cost for the nine parks totals $274,741.65.
The estimated costs include shipping and manufacturer installation, after which the manufacturer will assume related liability.
Virginia's New River Trail stretches 57 scenic miles along a prehistoric, mountain-sided channel, traveled through the ages by a north-flowing river, countless wild species, Native Americans, early settlers, and the railroad whose bed composes this path
But Virginia's longest state park is also the narrowest, with a mere 80-foot-wide right-of-way in most locations.
While park staff work devotedly to maintain this corridor, its surrounding beauty is due to generations of adjacent landowners whose stewardship has retained the songbird habitat, soaring palisades, woodlands, pastures, riparian buffer, fresh breezes, and quiet, sweet solitudes that make the trail experience a rejuvenating step back in time
Such rural landscapes have vanished from much of the Eastern U.S. - a fate you can help our park avoid with a spirit of conservation.
*Please respect private property along the trail
*Please consider helping to protect this quiet, scenic legacy by donating to the New River Trail Conservancy Project. This nonprofit project exists solely to protect the scenic landscape surrounding the Trail, through the establishment of conservation easements. Every donated dollar protects another bit of habitat and beauty for generations to come - a vital step on the path between a living history and a sustainable future.
To help VAFP conserve and protect the pristine beauty of the New River Trail, click on the donate button below:
You can still find these rare treasures along the New River Trail State Park, but they are vanishing from America's landscapes, and potentially from this one as well.
The scenic New River Trail, winding along the prehistoric, pastoral channels of Chestnut Creek and New River, is Virginia's longest State Park. But it's also the narrowest, with only an 80-foot-wide right-of-way for most of the length, and few protected scenic buffers.
What will the ancient corridors of the acclaimed trail look, sound and feel like in a few years? Will the trail become a noisy sidewalk through lit-up developments?
Or will children and adults still find the mystical beauty and songbird habitat that make this 57-mile long Virginia State Park a welcome refuge for people and wildlife?
It's Our Decision
The rural character of the New River Trail has depended on the generations of adjacent landowners who have retained the soaring palisades, woodlands, pastures, and quiet, sweet solitudes that make the trail experience a rejuvenating step back in time.
Today, as family farms are sold and development springs up, land-use experts predict that without incentive for protection, little greenspace will remain undeveloped. In fact, natural landscapes have already vanished from much of the Eastern U.S.
The New River Trail Conservancy Fund evolved to address that ongoing change.
This nonprofit fund exists solely to protect the scenic landscape surrounding the Trail, through the establishment of conservation easements. Every donated dollar protects a bit of shade, beauty and habitat for generations to come.
A Gift to Grandchildren
Protecting the New River Trail corridors is a time-limited offer. Within a decade, many land tracts will have become developed or unavailable for protection. This means the next generations will not have the choices we have today. Their landscapes, wildlife habitat, water quality and scenic beauty depend largely on our actions or inaction today.
Your donation works to save a bit of the natural world for your grandchildren. While other material gifts have a short lifespan, protected rural landscapes will continue giving and living for decades and generations, a needed sanctuary for body, mind and soul.
A Silent Spring?
The songbirds, owls and spring peepers you may hear along the New River Trail are vanishing from landscapes in the U.S. and around the world.
One-third of our nation's 800 bird species are in steep decline, threatened or endangered, due to development, suburban sprawl and pesticides.
Fireflies, butterflies, newts and salamanders are likewise in decline.
You can help invite these creatures back home to America by restoring habitat on your property, or in a churchyard, schoolyard, hospital or office grounds. What habitat?
Songbirds, owls and overwintering birds need tree canopy and thickets, not merely a flat lawn. Planting hedgerows and islands of trees, shrubs and blooming plants offers nesting songbirds shelter from cats, raccoons and bluejays, while feeding pollinators and providing firefly perches.
Provide this kind of living shelter and watch your land come back to life a musical sound and light show!
Keep Those Autumn Leaves!
Trees, shrubs, wildflowers and future crops need topsoil restored by organic matter. Sending grass clippings and leaves off to a landfill means throwing away the valuable food of nature.
Songbirds and fireflies also need this humus. Fireflies begin life as glowworms, in damp, humus-like terrain, not lawn. (www.bayjournalnewsservice.com/Firefly.html).
Songbirds, meanwhile, scratch through mulch, humus and decaying organic matter and logs for grubs and worms.
For tips on National Wildlife Federation's "Backyard Habitat" program and certification, visit www.nwf.org
The care of rivers is not a matter of rivers, but of the human heart.
Do you know your watershed address? Your home town, driveway, lawn and kitchen sink drain into a creek, a river, and eventually the ocean. The New River flows north to join the Ohio, then the south-flowing Mississippi, then the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, more easterly rivers in Virginia drain into the Chesapeake Bay.
All of these inland waters carry construction silt, lawn fertilizer, herbacides, motor oils from parking lots and roads, cigarette butts, trash, and household or carwash detergents into both Gulf and Bay. This toxic soup is great for harmful algae-growth but bad for fish, crabs and oysters, as algae depletes water oxygen and kills the aquatic life below, creating expanding "dead zones."
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is tackling this enormous problem in mid-Atlantic communities, but restoring the Gulf and the Bay requires a change in everyone's inland habits.