Wasatch Environmental Update for April 17, 2016
By John Worlock, Member of the Board of Directors of Save Our Canyons
“National Park Week”
We’re here to call your attention to an important fact: the National Park Service is 100 years old this year. The actual anniversary is still several months off, on August 25, but it’s worth while to begin thinking about the history of our treasured national parks.
Quite a number of the most famous of our National Parks were created well before there was a National Park Service. Both Yellowstone and Yosemite had long and interesting histories, protected and managed by units of the US Army, until the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916. Even older are the National Capital Parks, established when the District of Columbia was founded in 1790.
Many of our National Parks started out by presidential proclamation as National Monuments and only later were raised to full park status by congressional action. Grand Canyon is a case in point, having been proclaimed as a National Monument by Teddy Roosevelt in 1908, achieving park status only in 1919. Our own Bryce Canyon has had an interesting history. In the early years of the 20th century, conservationists became alarmed by overgrazing, logging and unregulated visitation, threatening the fragile features of Bryce Canyon. The director of the National Park Service recommended that it should become a State Park, but that idea was killed by the governor and the legislature. Thereupon President Harding proclaimed it a National Monument. Five years later it became Bryce Canyon National Park. Imagine the State of Utah rejecting a gift of federal land!
This, my dear friends, is National Park Week, from Saturday April 16 through Sunday, April 24. Perhaps you will have the opportunity to visit one of our nearby National Parks this week, during which there are special events planned and all entry fees will be waived. This is a good time to visit, while the parks are still fresh from their winter vacations and before the crowds arrive during the summer holiday season.
We in Utah have more than our fair share of National Parks and our neighboring states are blessed with lots more, so we’re more or less in the center of National Park Country. For help in finding a destination, just take a look at the website www.nps.gov