History

2011 is our 15th Anniversary!!! 2010 in Review In 2010 the Friends raised the final $15,000 toward the orientation film for the park.   The total gifts were matched with a $100,000 challenge grant from the National Park Service's Centennial Funds.  This makes the total raised in excess of $215,000 and the film is now in progress with park staff and a contractor, in hope of a 2012 release.  The Friends also raised $15,000 for wetlands and $10,000 for roadside signage. 2009 in Review In 2009 Friends of Big Bend National Park was able to raise $95,000 toward an orientation film for the park.  In addition, the Friends also gifted $90,000 in license plate funds for a wide variety of projects including a multi-media computer and the necessary software to create digital content for the park's website, improvements to the Fossil Bone exhibit kiosk and design suggestions for a larger paleontological exhibit in the future, the Teacher Ranger Teacher program and the night sky lighting project.   2008 in Review In 2008 Friends of Big Bend National Park provided $109,500 to Big Bend National Park for a variety of projects through license plate income, foundation grants and individual gifts.  These range from wetland restoration in the Rio Grande Village area to the Teacher Ranger Teacher Program to assistance for the park's preschool.  Each project we provided funding for makes a difference to both visitors and staff.  In 2009, Friends of Big Bend National Park will work to raise $150,000 toward an orientation film for the park.  We have already begun the process of fundraising for this project by applying for foundation grants.  Big Bend National Park has three permanent entrance stations, a main visitor center and over 800,000 acres.  Being able to give visitors a direct message from the park regarding services, safety issues, history and culture will make a direct and immediate impact on everyone who visits the park.  These funds will be matched by the federal government, and we look forward to bringing this much-needed visitor amenity to the park.  Anyone interested in helping us with this project can contact me at friendsdirector@yahoo.com or 512-529-1149. We will also be hosting our first National Public Lands Day event in September.  We are currently looking for sponsors for this weekend volunteer and member event which will include behind the scenes tours of park operations.  Anyone interested in sponsoring this great weekend can contact me directly.  Thanks to Bill Miller BBQ, Culligan SA and Saint Arnold Brewing Company who have already signed on as sponsors! As always, we welcome all donations.  It is through the generosity of our supporters that we are able to meet the park's unbudgeted needs each year.  Friends of Big Bend National Park has donated over $760,000 to the park in its twelve year history.  As we near the $1 milllion mark, we thank everyone who has made a contribution to us or participated in one of our events.  We are proud to serve this American treasure. Organizational History Over the last several years, citizens of our nation have joined together to form more than 200 "Friends" groups to support specific national parks. By 1995, Lori Palmer and her husband Russ Jewert had been visiting Big Bend National Park for over 20 years. Having heard of other Friends groups, they decided to join one for Big Bend; however they discovered that no such group existed. After they met with park staff in February 1996, the wheels were put in motion to form a group. Other park enthusiasts joined the effort and provided early leadership. The National Park Foundation provided a $2500 seed grant to cover startup costs. A steering committee formed and met in July to create a mission statement, shape the new organization, and establish the founding board of directors. Within months, the group was incorporated and had a 501-c-3 tax status from the IRS. The Wray Trust provided an additional startup funding, a membership brochure was produced, and the first "Friends" started signing up! In early 1997, founding board member Jack Lamkin initiated a successful effort to seek legislative approval of a special designed license plate to benefit Big Bend National Park.  Thousands of Texans have supported Big Bend through their purchase of both car and motorcycle license plates.  To date, Friends of Big Bend National Park has raised over $1 Million for the park, including over $450,000 in license plate monies.