“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” – John Muir, “Our National Parks”
In 1916, the United States Congress created the National Park Service (NPS) with the mission of protecting our National Parks for future generations. One hundred years later they continue their mission of preserving our countries most important places.
When people think of the NPS often it is of places like Yosemite or Yellowstone, but in reality, they protect so much more. Their mission has grown to include protecting our sacred places such as Pearl Harbor, the Gettysburg Battlefield, Valley Forge, and sites of the Civil Rights Movement. They are truly tasked with maintaining our history.
The men and women of the NPS are not just passionate curators our history, but also, they are rescuers, law enforcement officers, and educators. There are not many jobs with the description of teaching children about owls to apprehending armed criminals to scaling El Cap to bring home a stranded climbing party. In their storied 100-year history 32 Rangers have lost their lives on the job.
In 2015 alone over 307 million people visited a NPS location. Truly the men and women of the NPS have a monumental task at hand as they continue to maintain and educate visitors about these places.
So what can you do to help celebrate their centennial birthday? You can take the time to remind your representatives in Congress how much you appreciate our National Parks and that they too should endeavor to protect them. Second, and most important, visit the National Parks!
REI has teamed up with the NPS to help make it easier. Download the REI National Parks App, pick up a visitor’s pass and get out there and explore!
What is your favorite National Park and why? Share your stories. Please comment below.