Americans are using their local green space and parks more than ever. Getting outside is not only good for your physical health, but also your mental health. That is why National Public Lands Day feels even more special this year. This day celebrates the connection between people and public lands in their community and encourages environmental stewardship and the use of open space.
The NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) is excited to use this opportunity to announce a new partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) to reach visitors and educate them about marine debris. This year the MDP and the NPS initiated a five-year partnership to support the development and installation of outreach and educational exhibits in coastal national parks. The exhibits will support marine debris prevention efforts and seek to raise awareness about the sources and impacts of marine debris, as well as encourage individuals to take action. This project will help meet a new program requirement included in the Save Our Seas Act of 2018, to develop outreach and education strategies in partnership with other federal agencies.
Although the MDP has a national reach, the program does not have a place-based footprint or physical location to reach families, students, and other audiences. Our National Parks System, on the other hand, manages 420 individual units covering more than 85 million acres of public lands in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. The System includes over 11,000 miles of coastline and 2.5 million acres of ocean and Great Lakes waters. In 2019 alone, the NPS received over 327 million recreation visits to their sites!
During the first year of this partnership, three NPS sites are developing displays: Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina, Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial in Ohio, and Bering Land Bridge National Preserve in Alaska. These exhibits will reflect the local and regional marine debris issues and seek to inspire action through the use of engaging and interactive content. We look forward to a successful collaboration for many years to come!