Celebrate America’s National Park Service Centennial with a National Park Adventure

Karl Egloff March 30, 2016 6

Every year is a great year to visit our National Parks, however 2016 is a year set a part from all the others. On August 25, 2016, America’s National Park Service (NPS) turns 100 years old, though the fascinating natural history of our national parks goes back millions of years.

There are hundreds of reason to visit our National Parks, but here are just five reasons that demonstrate the immense value of protected areas for healthy ecosystems. We hope you take some time to experience one of our U.S. National Park adventures with WWF and Natural Habitat Adventures this year.

1. Helps in recovery and conservation of species 

© Eva Powers/NHA

© Eva Powers/NHA

In Yellowstone National Park is currently home to the largest herd of bison in the U.S.  Partners such as WWF and national parks play an important role in their recovery. WWF is currently working to establish herds of at least 1,000 bison throughout the Northern Great Plains to achieve long-term recovery of species. Grasslands play an important role by regulating our climate through carbon storage, limiting floods and keeping our water clean through nutrient and sediment filtration.

yellowstone

 

2. Provides a natural classroom for the American public

© Catherine Blancard/WWF-US

© Catherine Blancard/WWF-US

The Grand Canyon has been declared one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and is enormous in scale. It stretches for 277 miles in length, and is 6000 feet deep at its deepest point, and is as wide as 18 miles across in some places. Its grandeur has likely inspired and educated millions. However, the Colorado River, responsible for carving this wonder, remains threatened by agriculture, dams and unsustainable development outside of the park. Protected areas are still a part of the broader environment, in order to truly protect rivers and habitat for future generations, all stakeholders must be fully informed of their actions’ impacts on our ecosystem. Education and transparency are key as these treasures belong to the American public.

canyons

3. Protects critical habitat

A male adult brown bear shakes his body dry as he struggles to hold onto his catch. © Justin R. Gibson/NHA

A male adult brown bear shakes his body dry as he struggles to hold onto his catch. © Justin R. Gibson/NHA

Alaska boasts habitat key for people, wildlife and wildlife’s migration corridors. WWF has worked with partners to complete extensive mapping of waters surrounding Alaska and the Arctic to identify focal conservation areas, including the distribution of fish species. Katmai National Park is home to the largest population of protected brown bears in North America —about 2,000 of them.  Many can be observed up-close at Brooks Falls and along the coast Brown bears in Alaska particularly rely on salmon during the summer months. NHA Expedition Leader, Brad Josephs, cites studies that have shown that 70% of nitrogen in the forest comes from salmon carcasses that feeding bears leave behind—this nitrogen can cause trees to be up to three times larger than trees in salmon streams without feeding bears.

alaska

4. Documents our changing world 

Grinnell Glacier, in the heart of Glacier National Park, has shrunk considerably since 1850. © Melissa Scott/NHA

Grinnell Glacier, in the heart of Glacier National Park, has shrunk considerably since 1850. © Melissa Scott/NHA

Glacier National Park was established as America’s 10th national park in 1910. Scientists estimate there were about 150 glaciers in 1850, with most still being present when the park was established. By 2010 there were only twenty-five. Scientists predict these will disappear in the next several decades due to a rapidly changing climate. Despite changes, the Glacier National Park remains a sight to behold. The Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park is widely considered the most scenic drive in America. The road crosses the Continental Divide on the spine of the Rockies as it winds through snow-covered peaks and sub-alpine meadows.

travel to glacier

5. Provides funding for proper management 

© Brian Rubin/NHA

© Brian Rubin/NHA

National Parks, now more than ever, are in need of critical funding that support conservation efforts. A 2015 study conducted by WWF and partners, demonstrated that in North America alone, visitors brought in close to $350 billion to parks (and three billion visits), though worldwide conservation efforts in protected areas remain vastly underfunded. We hope your visit will inspire you to tell your local government representative the importance of properly funding and managing protected areas so that future generations continue to be inspired by our world’s natural treasures.

national parks

6 Comments »

  1. Linda K.Nell April 6, 2016 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    love the info. Keep it coming!

  2. Bosson Raymonde April 6, 2016 at 11:34 am - Reply

    Les photos sont merveilleuses.
    C’est avec beaucoup de plaisir et d’espoir de constater que vous n’oubliez pas de vous occuper de la nature qui est si belle et que vous en faite autant pour ces beaux animaux, si ce n’est plus encore.
    Continuez sur ce chemin ,car nous sommes certains qu’elle restera toujours aussi merveilleuse; grâce à votre patience , votre combat interminable vous réussissez à avancer et à gagner toujours plus de victoire. Merci

  3. Lisa Boyle April 6, 2016 at 6:56 am - Reply

    I’m a paraplegic in a manual wheelchair. Before my accident I was able to hike and camp up in the back country ( or high country ? – we needed a special permit – ) of Yosemite and it remains one of my favorite memories. Is there anything accessible for me now?
    Thank you,
    Lisa Boyle
    lifeinslomo98@comcast.net

    • Nick Grossman April 19, 2016 at 11:54 am - Reply

      Hi Lisa,
      Yes, there are many wheelchair-accessible National Park facilities, trails, and campgrounds. The National Park Service is committed to making facilities, programs, and services accessible for all visitors through compliance with the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Learn more at https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/accessibilityforvisitors.htm

  4. Prof. Donald F. Megnin, PhD April 6, 2016 at 6:30 am - Reply

    You are doing a beautiful job in portraying some of the beauty which exists in our national parks! Keep up the beautiful work!

  5. Martha Bell April 6, 2016 at 5:04 am - Reply

    We have been to a lot of the parks and took our kids, grandkids and great grandkids. Everyone is amazed at what they see. We have been to several of them several times and are continuously amazed by what we see. Would love to be able to go back to Grand Canyon and see the horseshoe that has been built along with all the wonderful scenery. We have be to both the north and south ends and loved them both.

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