Terra Galleria Photography

National Park Foundation calendar covers


For their 2014 Calendar, the National Park Foundation has chosen several of my National Parks images, including for the cover, just like they did in 2013. I know from experience that this is not an uncommon in publishing, but I still find the reversed left-to-right Channel Islands odd. What do you think of the practice ?

I support both the National Parks Foundation and the National Parks Conservation Association, two excellent organizations that work on behalf of our parks. Since they are sometimes confused, let me take this opportunity to clarify their differences.

The National Park Foundation (NPF) calls itself “the official charity of America’s National Parks”. It is “official” in the sense that the NPF was chartered by Congress, is chaired by the US Secretary of Interior (who also overseas the National Park Service) and its board of directors are nominated by the US government. It was started in 1967 by Lady Bird Johnson, First Lady during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, after whom a beautiful grove in Redwood National Park is named. NPF is a “charity” in the sense that funds contributed to the NPF go into programs that directly benefit the national parks. For instance, your gift to the NPF may help restore the Elwha River in Olympic National Park, after the NPS began in Sept 2011 the largest dam-removal project in U.S. history.

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) calls itself ” the only independent, membership organization devoted exclusively to advocacy on behalf of the National Parks System”. It is an “independent, membership organization”, because it was created as a citizen’s watchdog for the National Park Service, as early as 1919 (the NPS was created in 1916), by none other than Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service. This independence make it possible for the NPCA to be critical of the government (including the NPS). The main work of the NPCA is “advocacy”, which includes educating the public about the importance of preserving the parks, convincing lawmakers to pass laws to fund and protect the parks, going to court to help enforce them. For instance, the NPCA, together with allied environmental organizations, lobbied successfully for the passage of the Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act (1992) and to secure associated funding.


  1. Brian Zemach says:

    Thank you for this disambiguation. I have received solicitations from both organizations, but was not able to tickle through the language to understand the use to which my contributions would be put. It does make sense to contribute to both organizations; one for supporting the operations, maintenance and upgrading of the parks, and the other to advocate and lobby to ensure that maintenance and upgrading of the various parks are well directed.

    • QT Luong says:

      Glad this was of help. Re-reading my write up, I’d also add that the NPCA has a broader scope, one that is reflected by its former name, the “National Parks and Conservation Association”. As such, it has also been speaking out for the national monuments as of late.

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