What We Believe
For 100 years, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been dedicated to the work of developing, sustaining and expanding the parks, because protecting our natural world and civic story is crucial to life and democracy. We have much to be proud about: a legacy of protecting the places that are home to rich biodiversity and, increasingly, those that tell the stories our country needs to remember.
However, we also know our visionary founders marginalized certain people. We were not always on the right side of justice; we helped pioneer the concept of public lands but excluded important voices in the creation of national parks and our organization. And many of our national parks and public lands were created by forcibly removing those who called them home. That history cannot be unlived, but facing these difficult truths allow us to do our best work going forward.
What We Commit To
In our centennial year, we commit to a new promise: that our national parks truly exist for all. We believe the best hope for achieving this vision is for people to love, believe in and advocate for these places. America’s national parks will grow stronger as more people benefit from them—on their own terms. To fulfill this vision, NPCA will ground itself in the tenets of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. These principles are fundamental to what we want this organization to become, and to creating and preserving a National Park System that really does belong to all people.
We start with ourselves, by fostering representational diversity, equitable practices and meaningfully including different perspectives at every level of our staff, board, advisory councils and volunteers. We will model an environment of trust, open communication and collaboration that welcomes new ideas and encourages challenging debate. We believe in constructive dissent as a foundation of innovation and growth.
What We Will Advocate For
- Equitable access to national parks for those who have historically been excluded or have felt unwelcome due to socio-economic constraints, biased or unrepresentative park interpretation, historical trauma, language barriers, fear for their personal safety or any reasons related to discrimination or injustice.
- An expanded park system that represents the full range of stories of our collective American experience, especially those stories that help us face our nation’s truths.
- Authentic, long-term partnerships with communities and cultures that have deep relationships with places that are now national parks. We will work with them to ensure that they have economic, educational and spiritual opportunities related to those parks. And we will use the power and position of NPCA to be steadfast allies on issues of justice and equity in our public lands.
Challenges We Will Overcome
NPCA’s future is inextricably linked to these commitments and we know they will raise challenging questions. Determining how justice can be served for both a community and for a park’s resources will rarely be simple, and we don’t yet know how to perfectly make decisions about using NPCA’s resources to address these issues. But we commit to trying.
As our country continues to evolve and develop, we believe national parks will become even more essential. NPCA’s story, like the story of America, is always changing. We will grow by acknowledging past injustices, seeking reconciliation and learning to become better listeners. And we will hear and amplify new voices that have traditionally not been part of the dialogue on parks and public lands.
The Journey We Will Take
We seek to be humble yet bold in this endeavor, open and without defensiveness. We hope to become an organization that better reflects our changing nation. We will surely make mistakes and missteps as we grow, but we will always try to learn from them. We invite our community – our members and supporters, partners and the general public – to join us on this journey so that together we can better advance the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.
We hope the commitments in this statement merge our words and actions in ways that will build bonds with others, inspire our staff to grow and take risks, and change how and with whom we work to protect and enhance the National Park System.