The National Park Service and Foundation
Shannon King, Charity Director
America has bountiful treasure in its national parks. The National Parks Service was created in 1916. Signed by President Woodrow Wilson, the bill mandates the agency “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
The National Park System includes all properties under the National Park Service. The System as a whole is considered to be a national treasure of the United States, and some of the more famous national parks and monuments are sometimes referred to as “crown jewels“.
Yellowstone National Park became our country’s first National Park in 1872. Since there was no state government to manage the park at the time, the Federal Government assumed control of the land. Although Yosemite National Park is an older park, it began as a State Park when the Federal Government donated the land to California for conservation in 1864. Yosemite was later returned to the Federal Government and thus became a National Park.
Today the number of National Parks has grown to 59. The National Park System has grown to encompass 84.4 million acres, with 4.3 million acres retaining private ownership. The largest unit in the system is the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Preserve in Alaska with 13,200,000 acres. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the smallest is Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania, at 0.02 acres.
The National Park Foundation is the official charitable partner of the National Park Service and is chartered by Congress. Through support of the public the National Park Foundation enriches America’s national parks and programs. Its purpose is to directly support America’s national parks by raising funds.
Park programs aim to protect the national parks, connect more people to the parks, and inspire a love of parks in generations to come. The number of programs are numerous and include programs that protect lands and historical sites, programs that connect people with the outdoors, and programs that inspire conservation in the next generation. To learn more about the individual programs operating in the National Park Service, please visit https://www.nationalparks.org/our-work/programs.
If you would like to read more about how you can support the National Park Foundation please visit https://www.nationalparks.org/support. Together we can have a powerful impact in reconnecting people with nature and in the conservation and sustainability of our national treasures for many generations to come.