Happy Birthday to the National Park Service

National Park Service logoWe've had some big milestones this year for National Parks. In June, we recognized the 100th anniversary of the Antiquities Act. Then in late June, we marked the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Mission 66 program. And today marks the 90th anniversary of the signing of the Organic Act, the legislation which created the National Park Service. This anniversary is known as "Founders Day" within the NPS.

At Yellowstone National Park today, NPS Director Mainella and Interior Secretary Kempthorne are on hand to open a new visitor center facility which examines the park's volcanic past. If you happen to be traveling near Crater Lake National Park, you'll be happy to know that they have waived the entrance fee today, and that if you stop by the visitors center you may even get a piece of cake. Carlsbad Cavern has waived the fee to enter the visitors center today, but you still have to pay to wander into the cave itself.

I have also noticed that today the official nps.gov website has gone through a very big overhaul. I like the new look, although I've noticed quite a few bugs as I've been clicking around this morning (for instance the link to Carlsbad's site, nps.gov/cave/ was returning "page not found"). They have added new features too. I noticed this morning that the Yukon Charlie Rivers website has a nice photo gallery which includes higher resolution photos available for download and includes a Flash interface for zooming in on photo detail.

On anniversaries like this, it is common to look back and revisit the past. The cultural resources at NPS has put together a brief history of the National Park Service which you may enjoy reading. The Park Service working with Indiana University is releasing to the public the online course which they have developed to teach new park rangers the history of the agency. The website is called ParkTraining.org. I have not enrolled yet (which is free), but as I understand it, each section of the 6 part course takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.

Also, on anniversaries like this, it is common to look ahead and consider what the future will bring. Today President Bush has sent an message to Secretary Kempthorne to start a program called the "National Park Centennial Challenge". The Challenge (apparently) is to continue the NPS mission for the next ten years as we approach the Park Service centennial in 2016 (the program as identified in the NPS Press Release is very vague). The president writes "I call on all Americans to help in these [preservation] efforts and to enhance our parks as we get ready for the National Park Services' centennial celebration." For an alternate 10 year plan, check out the Coalition for National Park Service Retirees strategic plan. The plan is specific to the organization, but I think it is a valuable read because it outlines a very specific plan with measurable goals which lead ultimately to the long term protection of the National Park Service.

So, happy birthday NPS, I wonder what the next 90 years hold for you.



I spent two winters as a seasonal ranger at Carlsbad, and there is never a fee to enter the visitor center or the park. The fees are for entering the cave on the self-guided trails or going on a guided tour.
Hi Jeanee,

Thanks for the clarification. I guess I had misinterpreted the original article I read. [ http://www.currentargus.com... ] When it made a point to say that the anniversary party was free, I had thought that it was a special one-day exemption for the visitor center. I appreciate you writing to clear that up!
Happy birthday, NPS!