In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson created the National Park Service (NPS) to manage and protect our lands for the enrichment of every American. There are currently 84.4 million acres of land under the NPS, a mere 3.4 percent of land in the United States. This land is divided into units of classification; National Monuments, National Parks, Historical Parks and Historical Sights, are some of the largest units in the NPS. In addition to the National Park Service, each state has its own agency to protect various landmarks, wildlife areas, and natural beauty. State Parks cover 18 million acres of land, less than 2 percent of state land. An estimated 300 million people visit National Parks and an amazing 740 million people visit state parks each year.
The benefits of our park services are too numerous to list all of in this blog, but I would like to touch upon a few of these advantages. First and foremost is the protection of wildlife and land. Wildlife management is used to protect endangered species, relocate non native plant and animal life, and help restore natural ecosystems. Next on the list is recreation, the parks are set up to provide a wide array of activities to enjoy. Camping, animal watching, historical studies are just some of the enjoyment visitors can easily find in our parks. The last benefit I would like to explore (this is a big one) is money. Now I understand when thinking of our National and State Parks, the last thing on most peoples minds is the financial benefits of having protected lands. The NPS employs 22 thousand men and women and generate an estimated 277 thousand jobs in the private sector. For every federal dollar spent on the land, an estimated 10 dollars are spent on the surrounding areas economy.
Now that we are all up to date on a few of the basic facts, let’s get down to why I’m writing this article. The protection of our legacy. Unfortunately numerous budget cuts and bills have come up this year that endanger our park lands. Oklahoma is a stake to lose 16 of its state parks, a national preserve in Florida has been opened up to oil exploration, and Utah could lose its newest national landmark. These are just a few of the examples of what is at stake for our National and State Parks. I urge everyone to please contact your local government officials to request the budget for our parks NOT to be cut. This USA.gov website will help you find contact information. Monetary donations and volunteer work can also be used to help out our park service.