::Friends of the Preserve at Little River Canyon








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Study Shows Economic Benefits of Little River Canyon NP

Autumn Colors on Lookout Mountain. Photo by John Dersham

Fort Payne, AL – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 224,931 visitors to Little River Canyon National Preserve in 2014 spent $12,614,900 in communities near the park. That spending supported 210 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $16,468,800.


“Little River Canyon National Preserve welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Acting Superintendent Kim Kirk. “We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides. We also feature the park as a way to introduce our visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers. National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities. Tourism is one of the largest industries in both Cherokee and DeKalb Counties”.


U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber, and National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz conducted the peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis. The report shows $15.7 billion of direct spending by 292.8 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 277,000 jobs nationally; 235,600 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $29.7 billion.


According to the 2014 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (30.6 percent), followed by food and beverages (20.3 percent), gas and oil (11.9 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent), and souvenirs and other expenses (9.9 percent).


The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state. To download the report visit www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm


To learn more about national parks in Alabama and how the National Park Service works with Alabama’s communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/Alabama.


Source: Larry Beane, LRCNP, 4/23/2015


Steve Black To Head Little River Canyon And Russell Cave

Steve Black, NPS superintendent

Steve Black has been selected as the next superintendent of Little River Canyon National Preserve and Russell Cave National Monument in Alabama. Black has been the superintendent of Big Hole National Battlefield in Montana since 2009.  He will arrive at his new assignment in mid-April.

“We are very pleased to have Steve join our Southeast Region family,” said Regional Director Stan Austin. “He has a great sense of history and deep appreciation for our natural and cultural resources, making him a great fit to lead Little River Canyon and Russell Cave.  We know he will do a great job of working with park staff, partners and supporters as we approach the National Park Service Centennial.”


Black was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Virginia.  He obtained a bachelor of science degree in history from Kansas State University in 1987.


Black started his National Park Service career in 1989 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  In 1998 he became chief of interpretation at Washita Battlefield National Historic Site in Oklahoma.  He became the chief ranger at Pea Ridge National Military Park in 2003.  He has also had the benefit of numerous detail assignments at national park units around the country.


"This is an exciting time to be in the National Park Service,” Black said.  “Next year we will observe its 100th birthday, and it is an honor to be picked to lead Little River Canyon National Preserve and Russell Cave National Monument through the Centennial celebration and into our next century."


Black is married to Rhonda Terry, a former NPS employee.  They care for two rescued Labrador retrievers.

[From NPS.gov 4/01/2015]


Superintendent Gail Bishop Retires

Gail Bishop, superintendent of Little River Canyon National Preserve and Russell Cave National Monument, will retire on Nov. 28, 2014, after more than 37 years with the National Park Service. She has been the superintendent at the two Alabama national park units for more than two years. Superintendent Paul Carson of Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail will serve as acting superintendent of Little River Canyon National Preserve and Russell Cave National Monument until a permanent selection is made.


"Gail has had a remarkable Park Service career,” said Stan Austin, Southeast Regional Director. “Her ability to communicate with, educate and inspire multiple diverse audiences is a tribute to her superb interpretive skills and has been a tremendous asset for the National Park Service. She has done a great job as superintendent of Little River Canyon and Russell Cave, and she will be missed by employees and the community alike.”


Gail started her career as a graduate intern in the Southeast Regional Office in 1975. In 1977 she moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked at Ford's Theater National Historic Site. During her career she also worked at Pea Ridge National Military Park in Arkansas, and Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas. She also served as acting superintendent of Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Kentucky during part of 2012.


Gail served most of her career as chief of interpretation at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Florida and Mississippi from 1986 to 2012. In the early to mid-2000s, her duties were heavily focused on recovery projects related to the damage to three visitor centers from Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina. For her work she was honored with the Sequoia Award in 2009. In addition, Gulf Islands National Seashore was recognized for accessibility and media awards for interpretive boardwalks, waysides, and films.


Gail will return to Ocean Springs, Miss., to join her husband, Charlie Clark, and their 23-year old daughter, Lauren.



Gail Bishop Selected To Head Little River Canyon And Russell Cave

Gail Bishop, SuperintendentSoutheast Regional Director David Vela has announced the appointment of Gail Bishop as the superintendent of Little River Canyon National Preserve and Russell Cave National Monument, both located in north Alabama, effective August 26th.


“We are excited for Gail as she assumes this new leadership position in the Southeast Region of the NPS.  Gail gained experience as a Park Superintendent at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace in Kentucky on a temporary assignment last year and brings a wide range of park experience to these unique units,” Vela said.  “Russell Cave was added to the National Park System in 1961 and protects an almost continuous archeological record of human habitation for at least 7000 years.  In contrast, Little River Canyon is a relatively new area, established in 1992, and a very different type of park in that it focuses on recreational activities in a beautiful riverine setting.  We needed a strong individual who could successfully manage two distinctly different types of visitor use areas with consistency and agency mission in mind. We have found that leader in Gail.”


“I feel very honored and excited to be chosen as superintendent for these two outstanding national park areas in beautiful northern Alabama and hope with the staff's help to 'showcase' them not only regionally but nationally,” Gail says. 

Gail started her NPS career as a graduate student, interning with public affairs in the Atlanta Regional Office, followed by a permanent position at Ford's Theater NHS in Washington, DC.  She has also worked at Pea Ridge National Military Park and Big Thicket National Preserve before returning to her home state of Mississippi to serve at Gulf Islands National Seashore, where she rose through the ranks to the position of chief of interpretation and education in 2000.   Gail has completed several detail assignments focusing on special events, such as Wright Brothers National Memorial and Vicksburg National Military Park.     


A product of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Gail has her family roots in education and national park visits.  “I  may get my  spirit of adventure from my parents who loved to fly.  My mother was a WASP (Women's Air Service Pilot) and my father was a pilot for the Army Air Corps in WWII," says Gail.  With her husband, Charles Clark, Gail has one daughter, Lauren, who is a rising senior at Rhodes College in Memphis.  The Bishop-Clark family continues its outdoorsy ways with their many pets.  Gail holds degrees in geography and science education from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), where her father was on staff. 



Randy & Kelly Owen become Friends of the Preserve

Membership recruitment has officially launched for the new Friends of the Preserve at Little River Canyon, and President John Dersham announces country music icon Randy Owen of Alabama and his wife Kelly are the first members of the newly established organization.

Randy & Kelly Owen First Friends


Randy and Kelly Owen have always been committed to protecting the environment and promoting environmental stewardship. One song in particular, “Pass It On Down” makes mention of the Little River Canyon and reflects Randy’s (and co-writers’) desire to raise awareness for environmental responsibility.


See the full story >>

Special Promotion - March 8 to 10, 2011

The Friends of the Preserve just got a call from Gina at Emi-G Knitting here in Fort Payne. They manufacture 100% certified organic cotton footware and have nominated the Friends of the Preserve at Little River Canyon to be their nonprofit for the week. Anyone who purchases their socks through the PureCitizen.com website will also be making a donation to the Friends.


Promotions on PureCitizen only last 72 hours. Don't Delay.


The project begins Tuesday, March 8 and runs through Thursday, March 10. This is a great way to support two local organizations.



New Organization Formed for Little River Canyon

Fort Payne, Ala. – The Little River Canyon National Preserve announces the formation of a new non-profit environmental organization. The Friends of the Preserve at Little River Canyon was established to promote and protect the natural, cultural, historic, and recreational resources of Little River Canyon National Preserve and to assure that they are available to the public now and for future generations. Little River Canyon National Preserve is located on Lookout Mountain in northeast Alabama and covers approximately 14,000 acres.


Autumn Colors on Lookout Mountain. Photo by John Dersham

“The Preserve attracts thousands of visitors every year,” said Friends of the Preserve President John Dersham. “Little River Canyon is a national treasure of which we should all be proud. And with this in mind, and in partnership with the National Park Service, the primary purposes of the Friends of the Preserve are:


Serving on the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Preserve are John Dersham, president; Karen Gregg, vice president; and Kim Hammond, secretary/treasurer. Additional board members are Claudia Lowe, Dave Wassom, Jeremy Taylor, Robyn Carlton, Thereasa Hulgan, Kelly Gregg and Laura Bundy.


The Friends of the Preserve is a support organization not directly affiliated with the National Park Service but that abides by National Park policies and procedures.



Highway 35 Bridge

The Alabama Department of Transportation and the Federal Highways Administration will soon be opening the new bridge over Little River. This is a first for our Department of Transportation. The bridge has been designed to match surrounding rock formations. It also has a sidewalk and even has benches so park visitors can safely enjoy the view. The ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for September 15th at 10 AM. Plan on attending and saying, "thank you," to the folks who helped make this happen.




Off-road vehicle use has long been a recreational use within the backcountry of the Preserve. Recently, a review of federal regulations and state laws has revealed that the backcountry roads fall under state law, and as such, off-road vehicles are not permitted. Enforcement of this regulation will begin September 1, 2010.



::message from the superintendent

Hello Friend,


I’m glad you took the time to look things over. Some people think the National Park Service is a big organization that reaches from coast to coast. They think we manage millions of acres of land and historic resources that tell the history of our nation and the diversity of its people.


Well, all of that is true, but we still need friends. We need friends to help tell the story of the preserve and to help everyone understand how important the preserve is. We need friends to help get the word out about preservation and how it is necessary to the success of all parks. We need friends to help the public appreciate the value of their parks and how the parks protect endangered species, save our history, serve as living laboratories, and educate our children.


I believe that if you become a member of the Friends of the Preserve at Little River Canyon, you aren’t just helping with a good cause, you’re also investing in the future.


Thanks again for taking an interest.


John Bundy


Little River Canyon National Preserve