The award was announced Sept. 26 during the national NRPA conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, according to a press release.
“This is a tremendous achievement that benefits everyone in our state – from residents to tourists,” said Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in the release. “Winning the gold medal is a testament to the hard work, collaboration and innovation that Arizona State Parks and Trails demonstrated to get us to this point.”
Arizona State Parks and Trails was selected as a final four candidate in May, along with Tennessee State Parks; Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission; and Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails.
Over the last two years, Arizona State Parks and Trails has established a self-sufficient funding structure, achieved record visitation and revenue and implemented a plan to reinvest in the system and create new parks.
“This gold medal win is not just about the staff of Arizona State Parks and Trails,” said Sue Black, executive director of Arizona State Parks and Trails, in the release. “This is about everyone in Arizona who contributes to our success or gets to enjoy our beautiful parks. It’s a huge honor to be considered the best-managed state park agency in the country, and we hope everyone will get out and see these amazing parks first-hand.”
To celebrate making it to the final four and hear the gold medal winner announced, agency partners, stakeholders and constituents gathered at the Arizona State Parks and Trails Outdoor Recreation Information Center the day of the announcement as the event was live-streamed on Facebook from the conference.
The Gold Medal Award honors state park systems throughout the U.S. that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management and innovative approaches to delivering superb park and recreation services with fiscally sound business practices.