Plans are in the works to create a non-profit foundation that will seek to raise money for Vermont State Parks.

The Bennington Banner reported that Craig Whipple, director of state parks, said Forward Philanthropy of Montpelier and CPG Enterprises of Shaftsbury, both consulting firms for non-profits, have been hired to put together a plan for the foundation.

Whipple said the foundation should “gather the passion and energy people have for the state parks and create a means to donate.”

To function as a corporate entity, the foundation needs a set of bylaws, rules, and procedures governing how it raises money, for what, and how its members are chosen.

Whipple said the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation will likely ask initial members to join and once the foundation is up and running it can recruit on its own.

Whipple said its structure will be one of broad membership with a board of directors overseeing it. A tentative name for the group is “Friends of Vermont State Parks,” but so far many details about the group’s structure have yet to be put to paper. Its exact role still needs to be defined as will be expectations the state has for it, as well as what the state commits to doing.

He said the broad membership model will likely draw from many people who value the state parks differently. Whipple said there are many angles on appreciating the parks. Some view it as resource management, others see it as a public health opportunity and it can also be used to educate and keep healthy children.

“We are trying to get it up and running by the end of the year,” he said, adding it would probably be a little longer before that happens.

The foundation’s fundraising efforts would be best spent on capital project, not operations and maintenance, Whipple said. Playgrounds, picnic areas, and programs would be the sort of thing it helped expand. He said the foundation is not intended to replace other forms of funding but to expand the park system.