According to a news release from Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites, “The semi-annual program, which was established in 2010, operates in tandem with Friends’ ongoing efforts and provides additional funding to Friends chapters for outstanding needs at their local site. ... The Chapters in Action program raised more than $200,000 for Georgia’s state parks and historic sites in 2013, covering a range of projects from maintenance and repairs to enhancing visitor amenities and providing outdoor educational programs.
“Projects that will be made possible by the additional funds include:
• Nationally accredited training for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Search and Rescue Team, including Wilderness First Responder and National Cave Rescue training
• Providing advanced equipment, supplies and medical kits to the Search and Rescue Team
• Paving, lighting and landscaping areas at George T. Bagby State Park to increase accessibility
• Construction of an outdoor interpretive center with replica American Indian hut and artifacts for educational programming
• Removal and replacement of a sinking overlook slab floor at Tallulah Gorge State Park.”
Locally, the contributions, since 2010, have enabled Red Top Mountain State Park to transform its previous restaurant into the Mountain Cove Discovery Room and more recently fund a full-time interpretive position.
“Friends of Georgia State Parks, one of the things that we do with membership and donation revenue is give that back to the chapters, obviously, so that they can do work at their local parks and do improvements,” said Damon Kirkpatrick, director of operations and development for Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites and president of Friends of Red Top Mountain State Park. “... It provides up to $5,000 per cycle for chapters who produce a local match with local fundraising and donations and things like that, so that they can tackle some of the bigger projects that they may not be able to do throughout the year.
“At Red Top way back when our lodge was originally closed and we converted the restaurant to a Discovery Room, most of the funds to help create and supply the Discovery Room were raised through the Chapters in Action funding. So that was our first big one with Chapters in Action and around the state there’s countless examples of what other chapters are doing. ... One-million dollars since 2010 is certainly a huge accomplishment. But the fact of the matter is the needs are significantly greater than $1 million. So yes, we would definitely want it to be even more in the years to come.”
For more information, www.friendsofgastateparks.org.