National Parks: A Hallmark of Conservation

Dusty Hill, Photo Editor

Many of the United States’ most scenic and historic areas have remained in their natural state in credit to an idea that is as uniquely American as apple pie: the National Parks Service.

The first National Park, Yellowstone, was created in 1872 under President Lincoln for the purpose of conservation and the people’s enjoyment. President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the National Park Service in 1916, which became its own bureau in the Department of the Interior, responsible for the 35 National Parks that had been created since 1872.

These actions of preservation in the U.S. began a worldwide movement, prompting other countries to create similar parks. Today, there are over “100 nations containing some 1,200 national parks or equivalent preserves”, according the National Park Service.

The Service controls Parks, Monuments, and Trails. National Parks protect vast areas of wildness with a focus on conservation – think Yellowstone, Yosemite, or Glacier National Park.

National Monuments, on the other hand, protect areas of historical, cultural, or scientific significance. For example, Mount St. Helen’s was set aside as a monument due to its research and education opportunities, while the State of Liberty qualified for its historical symbolism.

In addition, the title of a National Trail can be bestowed upon a route of travel with historical significance – for example, the California Trail, which spans 10 states and was the primary route of the largest migration in American history, the Gold Rush.

In recent weeks, President Trump signed an executive order instructing Ryan Zinke, Interior Secretary, to review any National Monument exceeding 100,00 acres and created since Jan. 1, 1996, in an effort to “end another egregious use of government power.” As we wait in anticipation to learn the fate these 27 profoundly important historical and scientific landmarks, we can do our part to support the conservation and preservation efforts made by the National Parks Service in our own backyard.

Here in California, there are nine National Parks and 19 Monuments dedicated to nature conservation, historic preservation, and scientific discovery. If you’re looking for a weekend adventure this summer, look no further than California’s public lands. Perfect for a budget-friendly getaway, most Parks have very affordable entrance fees and are great places to escape technology, distress for the weekend, and explore ecology that you didn’t even know was present in your home state.

Pinnacles National Park; Image Courtesy of Google Images

Only 80 miles southeast of San Jose lies the Pinnacles National Park, California’s newest park created under the Obama Administration. The sprawling preserve showcases the remnants of ancient volcanic activity and is now home to falcons, eagles, the critically endangered California condor, bobcats, coyotes, black-tailed deer, elk, and even a mountain lions. With a meager entrance fee of $15 per vehicle, the Pinnacles National Park makes for a perfect weekend adventure. At a time like this, it is vital that people with a passion for conservation spend their time supporting the efforts of the National Park Service. For people looking to become even more involved, there are even options available on the NPS website to volunteer at the parks during a stay.

Experience stunning natural beauty, witness impressive conservation efforts, and hear nature’s loudest and proudest call at a United States National Park.