Quick: what do you think of when I say National Park? Perhaps it is Yosemite with its granite cliffs, waterfalls and giant sequoia trees. Or maybe Yellowstone where the bison, wolves, elk and other wildlife compete for your attention with the geysers, lakes and hot springs. Truly, these are magnificent places but there are so many other places operated by the National Park Service.
August 25 marks the centennial of the founding of the National Park Service. The mission of the NPS is to “preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations.” Today the NPS oversees more than 400 units. These include national parks, monuments, battlefields, historic sites, lakeshore and recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails and even the White House! They can be huge like the 13.2 million acre Wrangell-St. Elias National Park (left) in Alaska or they can be as small as Thaddeus Kosciusko National Memorial (right) which is only .02 acres.
But you don’t need to travel far to explore the national park system. Right in nearby Oyster Bay is Sagamore Hill, home of President Theodore Roosevelt. And did you know that Fire Island National Seashore offers not only a scenic lighthouse and beautiful sand and surf but also the home of William Floyd, a signer of the Declaration of Independence? Going into NYC you have the choice of the African Burial Grounds or Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island.
Last year more than 3 million people visited sites operated by the NPS. In this centennial year even more people are discovering everything the parks have to offer. Writer Wallace Stegner called national parks “the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather that at our worst.” If you can’t get away right now, you can enjoy some armchair travel using the NPS Multimedia offerings or visit the library to check out the travel books on the first floor and the mini display on the third floor. If you are still looking for a vacation inspiration, use the Find Your Park website to search by name or location.
-posted by Brenda, Reference Services