5 Reasons to be Thankful for the National Park Service

This week thousands of school-aged children in the United States will sit down to answer one question: “What am I Thankful For This Year?” Park Chasers hopes that at least one essay or two includes the National Park Service. It certainly is top on our list this year.

During the 2016 NPS Centennial Celebration, it has become even more apparent how much the National Park Service impacts the American economy, culture and environmental landscape. Our grand idea to preserve and protect our country’s most important spaces touches the lives of more than 300 million visitors each year.  It’s difficult to imagine where the United States would be without the parks.

When we sit down with family and friends later this week, Park Chasers will be giving thanks for the past leadership and future conservationists who protect our parks.

5 reasons we (and many other Americans) are thankful for the National Park Service this Year

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Road trips to Yellowstone. Peaking over the edge of the Grand Canyon. Staring up at the Statue of Liberty.  We all have at least one story to tell about a visit to an National Park. Family memories are made year after year in these places.  Just imagine. Where would Instagram and Facebook be without those snapshots and selfies?

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Where would the National Park Service be without the more than 22,000 permanent, temporary and seasonal employees who keep the doors open? These positions represent a diverse group of professionals, researchers, rangers, and staff. Each individual plays a special part to ensure that visitors have a positive experience in the parks.

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The black-footed ferret in Badlands National Park.  The moose of Isle Royale. The ancient ‘ōhi‘a trees of Hawaii Volcanoes.  Each of these species has a story to tell of living under the protection of the National Park Service.  More than 200 of the 413 units in the National Park Service protect at least one endangered species of plant or animal.  We should all be thankful for the hundreds of National Park Service employees and volunteers who are dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable residents of our planet.

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It is also the role of the National Park Service to ensure that American’s understand the value and continue to protect these places. Ranger-led activities, classroom visits and social media campaigns all help form the next generation of environmental stewards.  We will depend on these emerging conservationists to become the volunteers, employees, and scientists to continue the tradition of the National Park Service.

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The National Park Service has been tasked with one of the most important jobs in our democracy.  Protect our nation’s most sacred, scenic and important spaces for the enjoyment of all.  The parks are our parks, our places.

Park visionaries like John Muir feared what places like Yosemite Valley would look like if left to private development: Expensive, crowded and set aside for the wealthy or powerful.  Yosemite as we know it would be completely destroyed.  The National Park Service has in the past, and continues to take every effort to ensure the protection and preservation of our parks.  They are dedicated to ensuring the equality of nature for all.

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