HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM
The National Park system was launched when Congress established Yellowstone National Park in the Territories of Wyoming and Montana. Since this preceded statehood for both territories, they were placed under federal management within the Department of the Interior.
In subsequent years, the government protected many more areas, many of which were also in federal land. The system was piecemeal: designations included National Parks, National Monuments, Historic Monuments, Natural Areas and Historic Areas. The administration was spread among the Department of the Interior, the War Department, and the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture.
By 1916, there were 35 national parks and monuments managed by the Department of the Interior. That year, President Woodrow Wilson established the National Park Service to protect and administer these and future national parks.
However, there was still some confusion as no single agency provided unified management of the varied federal parklands. In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order consolidating all National Parks and National Monuments, National Military Parks, National Cemeteries, National Memorials, and National Capital Parks into a single National Park System. Today a single system embraces places of scenic, natural, historic and scientific importance.
NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE ADMINISTERS A BROAD RANGE OF PROPERTIES
Today’s National Park system includes such diverse properties as Buck Island National Monument, which is largely underwater; the Manhattan Project National Historical Park commemorating the atomic bomb, with locations in Tennessee, Washington, and New Mexico; and such historic landmarks as Alcatraz Island, part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Today the National Park System administers 419 park sites, including parks in Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
THE MISSION OF THE NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE
The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.