The [National Park Service] thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations…to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life 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 Service Organic Act, Aug. 25 1916
America invented the national park with the establishment of Yellowstone in 1872. Today, our National Park System has grown to include almost 400 units, including such legendary places as Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Great Smoky Mountains, Independence Hall, Mount Rushmore, and Statue of Liberty. With good reason, our national parks have been called “America’s best idea.”
But our National Park System is far from complete. There are hundreds of priceless natural landscapes and historic sites that qualify as new parks. There are dozens of existing national parks that could be expanded. Most of these areas are threatened by mounting development pressures. Now is the time to preserve these irreplaceable treasures as the next generation of national parks — before they are lost forever.
A new movement is emerging that can make this vision a reality. Across America, grassroots groups and activists are calling to preserve special places in their regions as national parks. Proposals for new or expanded parks include the Maine Woods, West Virginia’s Blackwater Canyon, Washington’s Mount St. Helens, Oregon’s Mount Hood, California’s Pinnacles, Los Padres and Tejon Ranch, New Mexico’s Valles Caldera, and Utah’s Glen Canyon.
In recent years, there has been a lack of political leadership and support for new national parks. Now, however, a unique window of opportunity is opening. The Ken Burns PBS documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea has received an enthusiastic public response. The blue-ribbon National Parks Second Century Commission report, unveiled at the same time, recommends more resources for existing parks and the addition of new parks. The Obama administration is showing a level of interest in protecting and expanding national parks that has not been seen in decades. The new Congress provides a positive climate for new national park legislation. The approaching National Park Service centennial in 2016 provides a unique milestone for major expansion of the park system.
The New National Parks Project is taking advantage of this historic opportunity. We are working to expand the emerging new parks movement into every corner of the nation. Our goal — at least 100 new and expanded national parks by the National Park Service centennial. With your help, we can do it. We hope you will join us in this historic effort.