Celebrating Parks – January

The creation of a park establishes that sense of a special place. When you enter a park – you think differently. You pause and it takes you a little bit out of the rush of time and I think that is why so many families take their kids back and why those kids will take their kids back because it encapsulates an imperishable moment that you experience as a child.

~Dayton Duncan, writer and co-producer of The National Parks: America’s Best Idea documentary

sunset at Roosevelt Arch

Sunset at Roosevelt Arch, north entrance, Yellowstone National Park (click photos to enlarge)

For the past couple of years, Melissa and I have used some of our images to create nature-themed calendars as gifts for family and friends. We also included quotes collected from a variety of sources that we feel match the imagery. This year, we decided to do a calendar celebrating the centennial of the birth of both the National Park System and the North Carolina State Parks System. These organizations, and the lands they protect, have had a profound influence on us. They are among our favorite places to visit and to take others to learn about the natural world. It occurred to me that the calendar pages might make a good monthly installment on this blog and highlight why parks are so important to all of us. So, here is the first installment, along with a little background on the history of our National Park System. More on the North Carolina’s State Parks story in the February posting.

Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, was established by an act of Congress on March 1, 1872, as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.

In the years following the establishment of Yellowstone, additional parks were created, some managed by the Secretary of the Interior, some by the War Department, and others by the Forest Service. It became obvious that there needed to be a more unified management approach to these federal park lands. And so, on August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation creating the National Park Service under the Department of the Interior.

This so-called Organic Act states that the Service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments and reservations…by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purpose of the said parks, monuments and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

And so it began, the creation of a unit of government whose mission was to protect and interpret our nation’s most outstanding natural and historical resources for this and future generations. One hundred years later, we have 409 units in our National Park System. This year, take the opportunity to learn more about your National (and State) Parks, and be sure to give yourself the gift of visiting one (or more) to help celebrate the birth of this incredible idea.

Here is our January calendar photo and quote…

Hayden Valley

Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley in winter (photo by Melissa Dowland)

At its best, the National Park idea connects us to something larger than ourselves.

~Dayton Duncan