What You Need to Know About Our New National Parks

During the last weeks of his administration, President Obama added not one, but four new National Park Service units. As of January 16, 2017 this brings the total number of units in the National Park Service to 417.  The new units recognize the triumphs and trials of human rights advocates–beginning in the Civil War years and ending in the modern Civil Rights movement.

With the four new national park units, President Obama added roughly 50,000 more acres to the NPS. It brings the total protected land and water in his administration to 553,500,000 acres. This outshines every other President, including more than Theodore Roosevelt the original champion of the Antiquities Act.

During the same week, President Obama also added six new sites to the California Coastal National Monument and expanded the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon.  Those sites fall under Bureau of Land Management jurisdiction.

Today Park Chasers brings you a summary of the new national park units. Use our quick and handy guide to add sites #414-417 to your very own list of parkchasing:

Harriet Tubman – Image provided by NPS.gov

#414 – Harriet Tubman National Historical Park

Location:  Auburn, New York

Website:  https://www.nps.gov/hart/index.htm

The Facts: 

  • 32 acre site. This was not designated under the Antiquities Act, but through Congressional/Department of Interior Approval.
  • Includes the home of Harriet Tubman, the Tubman Home for the Aged, and the Harriet Tubman Visitor’s Center.
  • Sister park to the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Maryland.


Birmingham, 1963 – Image provided by NPS.gov

#415 – Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument

Location:  downtown Birmingham, Alabama

Website:  https://www.nps.gov/bicr/index.htm

The Facts: 

  • Protects the historic Birmingham Civil Rights District and the A. G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham.
  • Site was the headquarters for Martin Luther King, Jr. and other activists in the 1960’s.
  • Includes a $9 million partnership to restore the hotel.
  • Site will tell the stories of other area landmarks: 16th Street Baptist Church, Bethel Baptist Church, the 4th Avenue Historic District, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.


Freedom Riders National Monument – Image provided by NPS.gov

#416 – Freedom Riders National Monument

Location:  Anniston, Alabama

Website: https://www.nps.gov/frri/index.htm

The Facts: 

  • Site protects the Greyhound bus station in Anniston where Civil Rights activists known as the “Freedom Riders” were attacked on May 14, 1961.
  • Limited services and no visitor center at the site, although a mural and signage is already at the bus station. The National Park Service will develop a management plan in the coming year.
  • The national monument also includes a historical marker roughly 6 miles outside of Anniston where the bus pulled over and the segregationists again attacked the Freedom Riders
Reconstruction Era – Image provided by NPS.gov

#417 – Reconstruction Era National Monument

Location:  Beaufort, South Carolina

Website:  https://www.nps.gov/reer/index.htm

The Facts:  

  • The first unit of the National Park System focused on telling the story of Reconstruction. The “Reconstruction Era” (1861-1898) was the years immediately after the Civil War. It’s one of the most complicated and conflicted periods in American history as millions of newly freed African-Americans transformed the political and social structure of the South.
  • Area includes 4 sites in Beaufort County: Darrah Hall and Brick Baptist Church, including one of the first schools for freed slaves, the Old Beaufort Firehouse, and parts of Camp Saxton in nearby Port Royal where the Emancipation Proclamation was read.
  • None of the sites are open to the public, however the National Park Service has a management plan underway.



Greg & Amy
Chasing a visit to all 400+ units in the NPS
Current Count: 130/423
Next Stop: @hawaiivolcanoes


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