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US National Parks Service Centennial Celebrations Marked in Helensburgh and Loch Lomondside

As part of the US National Park centennial celebrations, the Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, the independent conservation and heritage charity for Scotland’s first National Park, are coordinating a series of events involving US National Parks 'Centennial Ambassador' Lee Stetson.

Lee will be bringing ‘the spirit of John Muir’ back home to Scotland, as he portrays the great man walking the new Scottish long distance route which bears his name, between Helensburgh and Dunbar.

At special events later this month in Helensburgh and on Loch Lomondside, Lee, a Hollywood actor perhaps better known for his part in the TV series ‘Hawaii Five-0’, will be telling stories about John Muir, who is known as the father of the US National Parks movement. 

These days Lee practically is John Muir, his memorable portrayals of the great man having been a highlight for hundreds of thousands of visitors to Yosemite National Park since 1983. Yosemite was one of the first National Parks established in the United States over 100 years ago as a direct result of the extensive writings and lobbying by John Muir to protect this special place. It was also the start of a movement that led to the creation of over 409 parks in America’s National Park system which had a record 305 million visitors last year.

On Wednesday 27th April, after addressing school pupils at Hermitage Academy's morning assembly, Lee will start his walk at 10.30am at the Pier head in Helensburgh which looks across the Firth of Clyde to Greenock. It was here, as an 11 year old, John Muir set out in 1849 with his family for a new life in America. Local walking and conservation enthusiasts will accompany Lee as he follows the John Muir Way over the hill to Balloch where he will be welcomed with a reception at the headquarters of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Lee will be able to say that he brings greetings from Yosemite, America's second national park to Loch Lomond in Scotland's first national park.

On Friday 29th April at 7pm, Lee Stetson will also open the John Muir Wildlife and Ecology Film Festival at The Tower Digital Arts Centre in Helensburgh.

The following morning, on Saturday 30 April, Lee will be planting Californian sequoia trees at Hermitage Park, Helensburgh at 10.30am before going on to Balmaha, Loch Lomond, where he will open the Tom and Rhona Weir Mountain Garden at 2pm.

With the exception of the National Park reception and the Hermitage Academy assembly, all of these are free events open to the public.

John Urquhart, Vice-Chairman of the Friends said:With the support of Argyll and Bute Council and the National Park, the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs are delighted to be hosting this series of events marking the US National Parks Centennial Celebrations and the great contribution of John Muir to the worldwide National Parks movement.

“Hopefully we will see a large turnout of the public at the events where there will be an opportunity to hear more stories about the adventures of John Muir and his outstanding achievements as a pioneering Scot in America all these years ago.”

David Adams McGilp, Regional Director at VisitScotland, said: “The spirit of Scotland stretches far beyond our borders and forms the backbone of the national parks movement thanks to the work of John Muir. This is a fantastic opportunity for visitors to find out more about Scotland's most famous conservationist whose pioneering work is reflected in the protection of our own beautiful and awe-inspiring landscape which continues to be a top attraction for visitors worldwide.”

*Header photograph: Left side shows walking the John Muir Way. Right side shows Lee Stetson in his role as John Muir.

More information:

1. Further information here or contact John Urquhart on 01436 674922 or c/o Balmillig B&B, 64B Colquhoun Street, Helensburgh G84 9JP.

2. The Friends often work in partnership with others, including the National Park Authority and Scottish Enterprise who financially support the Friends of OUR Park initiative and other projects to try and make a difference and help ensure current and future generations can enjoy Scotland's first National Park.

3. The Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs was established in 1978 and is the only independent conservation and heritage charity working solely to protect, promote and provide projects and services for the area covered by the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

4. The Friends has a strong membership base and is supported by a large number of individuals and companies who are passionate about caring for and celebrating the special qualities of the area.

5. For summary details of Lee Stetson/John Muir event and locations and timings mentioned above download a listing.

6. Discover other John Muir events in Scotland.

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