The National Park Service turns 100 in 2016, but this year is shaping up to be one of its most celebrated mile markers in recent memory.
Photo: Larry Lamsa/Flickr
Good news for anyone who loves high-heart-rate recreation, brilliant scenery, and a little bit of history — The National Park Service is starting 2015 off by establishing seven new national parks in eight different states and the District of Columbia. They include a supervolcano popular with cross-country skiers, a fossil-laden desert on the outskirts of Las Vegas, and a historic river corridor home to one of New England’s most scenic bi-state greenways.
This brings the total number of national park units to 405 and will add 250,000 acres of protected wilderness area. Before President Obama signed the defense bill on December 19, 2014 (which created the parks) the last time that the NPS expanded this much was when President Carter signed the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978 (Carter’s act created 1,974,005 acres of protected wilderness).
While these parks are new to the National Parks Service, they have long been overseen by either public agencies or private organizations. The change will be seen in the financial muscle and higher profile the NPS brings. After 99 years, the NPS has the skill and monetary resources to make places accessible to more people. That means these once quaint parks will soon be drawing more visitors, and building an infrastructure to welcome them.
A good thing? That depends on who you ask. Opponents balk at increased entrance fees and regulations that limit activities such as camping, climbing, and hunting, but proponents praise job creation and local economic development that occur when the NPS takes over.
For some of the new national parks, the road ahead is extra-long. The World War I Memorial in Pershing Park in Washington, D.C. can’t be built until a design is chosen. Coltsville National Historical Park in Hartford, Connecticut, is dependent upon land acquisitions.
Perhaps the longest road ahead belongs to the Manhattan Project National Park which is awaiting land acquisitions in three non-contiguous states. This park will be co-managed by the Department of Energy and established in New Mexico, Tennessee, and Washington at sites where the atomic bomb was developed.
Highlighted here are three of the newest national parks you can go to right now and bag a quality adventure.
Posted by: Katie Jackson Feb 9, 2015