As frequents visitors to and avid supporters of our
national parks we contribute to several organizations whose missions involve
improving the park system as well as individual parks in the U.S. In recent
years funds have been cut which means staffs are smaller and maintenance issues
must often wait for years.
|Jackson Lake at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming|
But U.S. National Parks have become even more
necessary and more visited in 2021 as families re-emerge into tourist mode.
National parks are seeing an influx of people arriving this summer, which has
resulted they saying that we are “loving the parks to death.” The resulting creation
of a reservation system has provided an additional layer of protection in some
of the most popular parks.
Having enjoyed these parks without such restrictions,
I wanted to understand how the parks came to be and how future parks might be
of the National Park System
In 1864, President Abraham
Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant, and for the first time, the federal
government set aside parkland for preservation and public use. Protecting
Yosemite Valley paved the way for the creation of all our national parks.
|Old Faithful in Yellowstone NP|
The movement then took off
with establishment of Yellowstone National Park,
the first national park, which was established by an act of Congress in 1872
"for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” You’ll see that phrase carved
in Roosevelt Arch at Yellowstone. The park was placed under control of the
Secretary of the Interior.
And in 1890, largely due to
community activism, the Yosemite Valley was officially protected as Yosemite National Park.
Amazingly, these acts began a worldwide national park movement. Today more than
100 nations have established 1200 national parks or equivalent preserved.
|Half Dome at night in Yosemite NP|
By 1916, Congress had
designated numerous national parks and monuments, many of them carved from the
federal lands of the West. The Department of the Interior was managing a large
portfolio of protected landscapes across the country but had no official or
unified leadership. Other natural and historical sites were still managed by
the War Department and the Forest Service.
President Woodrow Wilson
signed the act creating the National Park Service, which would have the
responsibility to protect the 35 parks and monuments then managed by the
Interior Department as well as any yet to be established. The National Park
Service was given the charge to “conserve the scenery and the natural and
historic objects and the wild life" in these special places.
In 1933, by Executive Order, 56 sites
were transferred from the Forest Service and the War Department to the National
Park Service, expanding the park system in recognition of the historical,
scenic, and scientific significance of these areas, deserving of special
|Rafting on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon NP|
the National Park System are now generally made through acts of Congress, and
national parks can be created only through such acts. But any president has
authority, under the Antiquities Act of 1906, to proclaim national monuments on lands already
under federal jurisdiction.
|Moose and bears are among the wildlife you can see in |
Glacier National Park
The National Park Service
still strives to meet its original goals, while filling many other roles as
well: guardian of our diverse cultural and recreational resources;
environmental advocate; partner in community revitalization,
world leader in the parks and preservation community; and pioneer in the drive
to protect America's open space.
|Mission Concepcion in San Antonio, Texas is one of |
the National Park Service historic sites.
America’s National Park System is huge—including more
than 400 sites and spanning 85 million acres across 50 states, the District of
Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands. Today more than 20,000
National Park Service employees care for the parks and work with communities to
increase recreational opportunities.
|Looking into the crater at Volcanic NP in Hawaii|
Parts of this article were reprinted from
National Park Foundation site, email@example.com
History of the National Park Service (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier
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