Worried that your state's parks may be in danger? Want to help them thrive? Here's how you can make an immediate difference.
VISIT Show up and show them you care. They're your parks. Of course, some are so popular—Hearst Castle in central California, for instance—that visiting can require planning weeks in advance. But most parks are ready to welcome all day visitors except on the busiest weekends. The fees you pay to enter provide sorely needed funds for upkeep and staffing. (Think about lifeguards at state beaches.) And consider buying an annual entrance pass, a good deal for both you and your state's park system.
VOLUNTEER Have a favorite state park in your area? Check with the staff there to see if the park has an organized group of volunteers or "friends." If not, ask about starting one yourself. If you think you'd like to volunteer, contact your state's park system.
- California: (800) 963-7275, parks.ca.gov/?page_id=886 
- Idaho: (208) 514-2493, parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/aboutus/jobs_volunteering.aspx 
- Nevada: (775) 684-2770, parks.nv.gov/job.html#vol 
- Oregon: (877) 225-9803, oregon.gov/oprd/vol 
- Utah: (801) 537-3445, stateparks.utah.gov/stateparks/volunteer 
DONATE The nonprofit groups striving to defend and promote state parks rely in part on private donations to keep up their education, outreach, and advocacy work within the states and in Washington, D.C. Here are links to state organizations around the West.
- California State Parks Foundation: (415) 262-4400, calparks.org/join 
- Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands: (208) 344-7141, idaholands.org/index-2.html 
- Nevada State Parks Cooperative Association: (775) 540-4279, parks.nv.gov/gen.htm#nspca 
- Oregon State Parks Trust: (800) 497-2757, oregonstateparkstrust.org/Donate 
- Utah Heritage Foundation: (801) 533-0858, ext. 102, utahheritagefoundation.org/donate-now 
Photography courtesy of Las Vegas News Bureau
This article was first published in July 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.