Photo Source: Martin Harvey
If you’ve ever wandered through Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, paddled through Florida’s Everglades, or visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Georgia, then you’ve glimpsed history or witnessed the marvels of our environment thanks to the National Parks Service.
Entrusted with the care of our nation’s treasures, the National Parks Service relies on volunteers and trusted partners to maintain and safeguard these places while sharing the stories behind and around them. It is an organization which contributes to revitalizing communities, preserving local history, celebrating heritage, and opening up these locations as places for active fun. And if we in the United States have ever needed havens that also prove all that this land and its people have endured throughout history, then that time is now.
History of National Parks
Congress established Yellowstone National Park as a “public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people” in the Act of March 1, 1872, which also placed the associated areas of the Montana and Wyoming territory under the control of the Secretary of the Interior. It was the first of a nationwide movement to preserve certain areas in the United States as monuments and natural and historical areas.
The National Park Service was created in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson, and was given the responsibility of protecting the then 35 national parks and monuments. In the following years, Congress would continue to add land to the protected National Parks, which now includes over 400 different areas and stretches across more than 84 million acres in all 50 states, as well as many of the outlying territories.
National Parks come in many forms, from preserves and recreational areas, to historic sites, battlefields, and memorials. National Trails crisscross all over the country, and seashores and lakeshores have their own special designations. Each is a recognition of the responsibility we have to protect this land.
Enjoying the Golden State
From the volcanoes of Pinnacles to the terrible history of Manzanar, California is rich with 28 National Parks and many more landmarks, preserves, and recreation projects. A breathtaking state in its own right, the Golden State has been recognized many times over for its natural beauty. And there’s no better time to enjoy it than now.
April 15-23 is National Park Week, when the NPS partners with the official charity of America’s national parks, the National Parks Foundation, to encourage people all over the country to visit the national parks. During that time, admission to every National Park is free on both weekends!
Need some ideas for your own trip?
– Head to Cabrillo for tidepool picking and to explore the old lighthouse
– Take a quick trip into the past at the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front in Richmond
– Spend the weekend hiking the trails of Yosemite, up mountains and around waterfall
– Stroll beneath the Redwoods along the Northern California coastline
To the Resistance!
When you think of our nation’s National Parks, what do you imagine? Trees? Wildlife? History? How about one of the first organizations to fight back against #45 during his early weeks in office?
Within days of his inauguration, Trump issued a gag order to a number of federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Interior Department, the latter which oversees the National Park Service.
A Twitter account officially run by Badlands National Park responded with a series of science facts, such as “Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years,” The tweets were later deleted, and a statement was issued which claimed that a former employee, who was not authorized to access the account, had been responsible, leading to the removal of the tweets.
Soon after, a rogue National Park Twitter account appeared on social media, which claimed to be run in secret by employees of the National Park System while off duty. An “unofficial resistance team,” that can still be found tweeting criticism of #45.
Just this month, only a few weeks after slashing the budget for the Department of the Interior by $1.5 billion dollars, Trump played at generosity by donating his first quarter salary of $78,333 to the National Park Service. Some called it “chump change,” and scoffed at the hypocrisy, especially since the check would cover less than .01% of the estimated cost for repairing the battlefields, which was how Trump wished the money to be spent. But the best reaction came from Ranger Tyrone Brandyburg himself, whose face, as he accepted the check, said it all.
If you’re looking for both a stellar day trip or weekend getaway and yet another way to #resist, find a National Park near or far from you and enjoy the land while we still can.