There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and wild life are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in the process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbol of this great human principle.
~President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Radio Address from Glacier National Park, 1934
The people of America invented the national park with the congressional establishment of Yellowstone in 1872. Since then, our National Park System has grown to include such legendary places as Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Independence Hall, Mount Rushmore, and Statue of Liberty. The success of our park system has inspired more than 100 other countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, to create hundreds of their own national parks.
But America’s National Park System is not complete. Less than 7 percent of our nation is preserved in national parks and wilderness areas outside of parks — most of them in Alaska. Hundreds of other areas could qualify for addition to our park system, including vulnerable ecosystems, natural rivers, wild marine and coastal areas, habitats for endangered species, carbon-rich forests, damaged but restorable landscapes, historic sites, and urban open spaces. Most of them face mounting development pressures. Now is the time to preserve these irreplaceable treasures as national parks — before they are lost forever.
Grassroots groups and activists have proposed new parks for special places across the country. However, they have been working on their own, held back by insufficient resources, entrenched opponents, and limited assistance from mainstream organizations and political leaders. If these individual efforts can be united, organized, and adequately funded, they can serve as the foundation of a powerful, inspiring, nationwide campaign for a new generation of national parks.
In 2016, Americans will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. There could be no better time for a bold campaign to expand the National Park System for the next century. Why not 100 new parks — or more — to mark the centennial? Such a campaign can inspire conservationists, rally public support, and convince Congress and the president to take positive action. Future generations will thank us for having the foresight to save our unprotected natural and historic treasures as their priceless national park legacy.
This is the vision of the New National Parks Project (NNPP). The purpose of the project is to expand America’s National Park System by supporting individual park campaigns, building a grassroots national parks coalition, and rallying broad public support for a new generation of national parks. We hope you will become a part of this historic and vital movement!