Dear Park Patron,
In 2013 we initiated a two-year program of hosting Open House and Public Listening Sessions to the public in our state parks throughout Alabama. Those were difficult times as the state struggled with serious budget issues, and we heard the concerns expressed from our customers. The public events, coupled with our 75th Anniversary program in 2014, and the groundswell of community support we received in 2016 to pass Amendment 2 (protecting our parks funding) provided us with a great opportunity to better understand what our customers want from their state parks, and what resources and tools they think we need to fulfill our public service mission.
When 80 percent of voters approved Amendment 2 in November of 2016, the park system immediately changed for the better. We were once again able to develop positive budgets, plan for improvements, and make financial commitments with local communities and the partners. We began to tackle the significant backlog of maintenance issues complicating park operations, and we developed a strategy for addressing public comments that were expressed during our Open House sessions five years ago. Among those public comments was the need for a dedicated State Parks Foundation that could independently serve the needs of all the parks. Toward that end, it was our good fortune to meet Dr. Dan Hendricks, a retired university professor and administrator of several university foundations.
Over the past 18 months, Dr. Hendricks has been developing and implementing a plan to create our very own Alabama State Parks Foundation. During that time, he has succeeded in accomplishing the steps of creating the non-profit corporation, establishing the by-laws, recruiting and forming a diverse and strong board of directors, and achieving 501 (c) 3 status with the Internal Revenue Service. Today, Dr. Hendricks and the Board of Directors publicly announced the establishment of the new Alabama State Parks Foundation, and extended an invitation to the public to join in this movement by becoming a First Friend of the Foundation.
It is my pleasure to share this great news with you, and invite you and other park friends to learn more about the new Alabama State Parks Foundation. As you become more familiar with this new organization, we hope you will consider joining as a Founding Member and First Friend.
Gregory M. Lein, Director
State Parks Division, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources