Black Hills Parks & Forest Association

Public Lands Alliance

The Public Lands Alliance is the non-profit partner of America’s public lands. The Public Lands Alliance serves over 600 public lands and assists with raising over $250 million annually to help support the lands we love. PLA facilitates training to help non-profit and land management agencies follow best practices. As a Corporate Partner at the Trailblazer Level for the past 7 years, Xplorer Maps collaborates with various PLA organizations to ensure that our maps are accurate, educational, interpretive, engaging and entirely custom.

This year, we will be highlighting our collaborative PLA partners each month and the amazing public lands they support. For the month of February, we will be featuring the Black Hills Parks and Forest Association. This organization is the non-profit partner of the Black Hills National Forest with whom we collaborated to create their custom hand-drawn map back in 2016.

The Black Hills Parks & Forest Association is a proud member of the Public Lands Alliance and is the official non-profit partner of the Black Hills National Forest, along with many other national historic sites, monuments, and forests throughout the South Dakota and Wyoming regions.

In 2016, Xplorer Maps co-founder and president, Greg Robitaille, collaborated on a partnership with the Black Hills Parks & Forest Association to create a custom, hand-drawn map of the Black Hills National Forest. The first of its kind, the map was a tremendous success. And from there, our relationship has grown over the years.

For the month of February, Xplorer Maps will be highlighting the Black Hills & Forest Association and all they do for conservation! As our first feature, we are excited to interview Matt White, the Retail Operations Manager of BHPFA.

XM: Could you please provide us with a brief history and mission of your organization?

Matt: We just celebrated our 75th anniversary in 2021. Supporting Public Lands throughout the Black Hills region, our mission is to act as the main funding organization to help support the conservation, education, and interpretation efforts to raise awareness of this region. 

XM: What is your personal history with the organization?

Matt: I am starting my 6th year in this position. My previous experience was with “big box” retail and I’ve been learning the nonprofit side of things with the national parks ever since. Perhaps surprisingly, the two worlds came together pretty easily. 

XM: How did you first "discover" and/or hear about Xplorer Maps? How has the relationship grown? 

Matt: I came on board in 2017. To help honor the centennial of the National Park Service in 2016, our Executive Director and the BHP&F Board forged a collaborative partnership with Greg Robitaille (Xplorer Maps Founder and President) to create a custom hand-drawn map of the Black Hills region; something we had never offered for our visitors.

Personally, I first met Kevin and Greg at the Public Lands Association trade show in Washington DC. in 2017. Since that time, we have grown the XPLORER MAPS brand significantly. In fact, we now offer ALL 15 map products in the Xplorer Maps line!

I thoroughly enjoy working with Kevin and Greg, who are always quick to respond to any artwork and/or product changes. Initially, we were a little hesitant to start working with a rep group (Rocky Mountain Concepts) but working together, everyone has been awesome. Both Xplorer and RMC are always supportive of our mission and very quick to respond to any and all issues.

XM: What makes the Xplorer Maps line unique and successful for your organization? What stands out? 

Matt: Our visitors are immediately drawn (no pun intended) to the original, hand-drawn artwork as they flow in and out of our different stores. The fact that we have found a way to translate their custom map art onto other products really helps “tell our story” in a unique, effective and complete way. Many of our visitors travel to other National Parks and seem to be building an Xplorer Maps “brand collection”. The blankets and puzzles are our top-sellers.  

XM: Please briefly share any feedback you get from your visitors/customers pertaining to the Xplorer Maps brand. 

Matt: See above. The biggest differentiator is the uniqueness and detailed high quality of the custom hand-drawn artwork. Additionally, the free framed display prints that Xplorer Maps provides as part of the collection, create quite a conversational buzz in our stores as people gather to share their personal stories of visiting our public lands. The displays are a very effective way to generate interest in the line.

XM: Please briefly comment on the Customer Service you receive from Xplorer Maps:

Matt: XPLORER MAPS has always been quick to react to issues. Outstanding customer service with a nice personal touch.

XM: And anything else you think folks might find interesting? 

Matt: The PRICE POINT!! Absolutely excellent for these product categories.

Additionally, unlike their competitors that typically require us to order very large quantities, Xplorer Maps relieves our organization of that burden by offering us ZERO MOQ’s, generous payment terms and an extended storage option. So whenever new products are being introduced, we can initially get behind all the products we’re considering because the risk and responsibility are shouldered by Xplorer Maps. Definitely a game-changer.


Charitable Donations:

IN-KIND: Xplorer Maps donates products to our organization each year to help support our fundraising efforts.

CASH: Under our collaborative Partnership Agreement, Xplorer Maps also donates a percentage of all Black Hills map sales in perpetuity. This year’s donation is for $5,000 and will be targeted toward our children’s education and outreach programs for underserved populations.