Park Service hopes future leaders will protect parks


WASHINGTON – The National Park Service on Wednesday released a plan to identify gaps in the current National Park System to better inform future decision-makers – including the incoming Trump Administration -- of options that more fully represent the nation’s natural and cultural resources, and the experiences of all Americans.

“The National Park System continues to grow, largely through grassroots efforts led by passionate citizens; however, we rarely look at the park system holistically or think about its development in a deliberate, systematic way,” said Acting National Park Service Director Michael T. Reynolds. “The National Park System Plan is designed to identify the themes of the evolving American experience that are expressed through our National Park System and identify gaps where we could better express the full story of our nation. The system plan makes that information available when people think about future national park sites.”

The National Park System Plan was developed in response to former NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis’ 2011 initiative, A Call to Action. It builds upon laws that govern the National Park System, the NPS mission, ideas of NPS employees at all levels, and recommendations of the National Park System Advisory Board. The plan articulates a vision for the national park system, describes gaps in the system related to natural and cultural themes, and provides recommendations for evaluating and studying new park units.

Additions to the National Park System happen in two ways - by an Act of Congress and by Presidential designation through the Antiquities Act. Congress regularly directs the Secretary of the Interior to assign the NPS to conduct special resource studies of areas to determine their significance, suitability, and feasibility for inclusion in the National Park System and other management alternatives.

The latest Congressionally-authorized park to be added to the National Park System is Harriet Tubman National Historical Park.

Presidents can designate national monuments through the Antiquities Act. President Obama added 16 national monuments to the National Park System during his Administration. The latest national monuments added to the National Park System on January 12 were the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument in Birmingham, Ala., the Freedom Riders National Monument in Anniston, Ala. and the Reconstruction Era National Monument in Beaufort County, S.C.

A key point reinforced in the system plan highlights the ongoing and growing importance of partnerships and community engagement for the National Park Service.

Reynolds said, “As we move into our second century of service, we will build on the lessons learned during our centennial about the power of partnership and community engagement in amplifying the work of the National Park Service and making that work relevant to new audiences.”

This article originally ran on Content Exchange