Featured Content April 16, 2020 – A time to celebrate America's treasures, even from home
Each April we observe National Park Week, described by the National Park Service (NPS) as "a time to explore amazing places, discover stories of history and culture, help out, and find your park!" This year's celebration will be observed April 18–26, although NPS recommends checking with individual parks for specific details about park operations during the COVID-19 outbreak. You can also take a virtual tour of a National Park or read on for legislation that established some of our nations' treasures.
On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act into law, creating the very first national park in the United States.
President Theodore Roosevelt was arguably the biggest player in making conservation in the United States a priority. While President from 1901−1909, Roosevelt created the United States Forest Service and established 150 national forests, 51 bird reserves, four national game preserves, five national parks, and 18 national monuments. During his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt also protected approximately 230 million acres of public land. (Source: National Park Service )
On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act* creating the National Park Service. The act stated that the National Park Service had a duty “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life … 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.”
On February 26, 1919, Congress passed the act that established Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
Everglades National Park in Florida was established in 1947. In his address on conservation at the dedication of Everglades National Park, President Harry Truman said, “Here is land, tranquil in its quiet beauty, serving not as a source of water, but as the last receiver of it.” Read his full remarks on p.545, Public Papers of the Presidents Collection, Book 01, Presidential Documents - January 1 to December 31, 1947.
On October 2, 1968, President Johnson signed a bill establishing Redwood National Park in California, which is home to some of the nation’s largest trees. See his remarks on p. 310, Book 02, Presidential Documents - July 1, 1968 to January 20, 1969.
In 1994, the California Desert Protection Act was passed to establish both Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks. The legislation states that these lands were “increasingly threatened by adverse pressures which would impair, dilute, and destroy their public and natural value.”
The Pinnacles National Park Act which protects mountains in California was signed into law on January 10, 2013.
The most recent to be added to the list of national parks is White Sands National Park in southern New Mexico. It became a national park through Subtitle E of Title XXVIII of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law on December 20, 2019. It is the 62nd national park.
- Search govinfo for more documents related to U.S National Parks.
- Check out GPO’s Bookstore, for publications produced by the National Park Service.
*This links to a Statute Compilation, which is a compilation of the public law, as amended, and is an unofficial document and should not be cited as legal evidence of the law. Learn more.