Delaware North recently announced it has launched a program to help address unmet maintenance needs in the nation's parks by putting veterans and young adults to work.
The program, called TradePath®, provides job training and education in the building trades for these groups, while also helping to preserve the parks for current and future generations. TradePath identifies projects and then trains and supervises project teams on rehabilitation work, and participants gain valuable leadership skills that will translate to future professions. Partners include National Trust for Historic Preservation's HOPE Crew (Hands-On Preservation Experience) program and the Corps Network.
"This is a tremendous opportunity to teach valuable vocational skills to veterans and young adults in the most magnificent settings in the United States. TradePath will better position its participants for full-time employment back in their home communities, while also aiding in the stewardship of our parks system," said Jerry Jacobs Jr., co-CEO of Delaware North.
TradePath will help to address a multibillion-dollar backlog of maintenance and renovation projects for key visitor facilities in state and national parks throughout the country. Many of the structures are in urgent need of refurbishment and restoration.
"Delaware North is committed to improving the experience for our national park guests and being an effective and helpful partner with the National Park Service," Jacobs said. "We know the park service does not have the resources to save many of these structures from further deterioration and possibly total loss, and this program will help address this problem at a much lower cost to taxpayers."
The program is modeled after a pilot project that Delaware North helped complete last year to rehabilitate the historic Skyland Resort Stables at Shenandoah National Park, where the company operates lodging, food and retail services.
Delaware North worked with the Trust's HOPE Crew over several months to guide a group of young adults to repair the 1930s-era stables at Shenandoah, enlisting a professional carpenter and historic restoration expert to oversee the work. The group was housed and supported at Shenandoah by Delaware North.
"The program will be a lot like the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was part of the New Deal of the 1930s, with the participants living in the park while they are working," Jacobs said. "They will also have a chance to experience the recreational opportunities and beauty of our parks and share that with their friends and families."
Near-term TradePath projects include:
- Window and facade restoration of the Historic Gideon Putnam Hotel in the Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., in partnership with the Trust's HOPE Crew program.
- Removal of invasive moss growth on the exterior of the historic Peaks of Otter Lodge in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Bedford, Va., in partnership with the Trust's HOPE Crew program.
- Multiple small maintenance projects at the Kalaloch Lodge in Olympic National Park in Forks, Wash., in partnership with the Corps Network.
Delaware North expects to complete 30-40 TradePath projects over the next 18 months.
PHOTO CAPTION: Among the special places that Delaware North’s new TradePath initiative will help is Shenandoah National Park, where the company operates a variety of food, beverage, retail and lodging services.