Personal Passion and Public Service
Victor Ashe has already left an indelible legacy for America’s parks and green spaces during his lifetime. As mayor of Knoxville, Tennessee for 15 years, he tripled the park acreage and quadrupled the miles of greenways in his city. He also counts decades of volunteer work with conservation organizations, including the National Parks Conservation Association.
But, like most stories of incredible public service, Victor’s has deeply personal roots.
He grew up hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, took frequent family trips to national parks and traveled with friends to parks across the country after he graduated from high school. He also remembers the expression of wonder on his children’s faces as they watched Old Faithful erupt when his son was ten years old and his daughter was just eight.
Through all these experiences, Victor came to really appreciate the parks as the crown jewels of our nation’s heritage. “If you don’t know about our parks, then there is so much you don’t know about America,” he says.
He points out that whether you visit the Grand Canyon or the battlefields of Valley Forge or the Rocky Mountains, they all represent part of the fabric of American history.
Victor first got involved with the National Parks Conservation Association in 1985 when he was Executive Director of American Outdoors Commission. It was eye opening how much NPCA’s independence made it possible to advocate for the parks in a way that the Park Service cannot.
He remains a dedicated friend and sees his support of NPCA as an important way to help protect our parks. Victor is especially concerned about the threat overuse poses to our parks. In his words, “They are being loved to death.” He believes NPCA’s expertise is essential to finding practical solutions that balance robust public use with keeping these lands as pristine as possible.
Victor is proud of NPCA’s long track record of success, including increasing funding of the Park Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund and expanding and strengthening the park system. We are humbled by his vote of confidence and grateful for his ongoing support of our work.
As Victor puts it, “God’s not making any new land. Whether we’re good stewards or not impacts what we pass on to the next generation. And we should pass on something better than what we inherited.”