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Federal Land Committed to Recreation and Preservation
A collage of photographs depicting Monument Valley National Park, Sequoia National Park, and a civil cannon standing guard. Courtesy of NPS.

The National Parks, Wild and Scenic Rivers, Wilderness Areas

Since the designation of Yellowstone National Park as the inaugural national park in 1872, Congress has expanded the national park system to include more than 390 park system units nationwide. These units are designated as national parks, monuments, preserves, lakeshores, seashores, wild and scenic rivers, trails, historic sites, recreation areas, battlefields and memorials. Regardless of the many names and official designations of the park units that make up the national park system, all represent some nationally significant aspect of our natural or cultural heritage. They are the physical remnants of our past – great scenic and natural places that continue to evolve, repositories of outstanding recreational opportunities, classrooms of our heritage, and a legacy to future generations – and they warrant a high level of protection.

The national park system has grown substantially since the National Park Service Organic Act (16 U.S.C. §1) was passed in 1916 and with this growth came increased use by park visitors. As a result, the Natural Resources Section has been involved in a substantial amount of litigation involving recreational users, industry and conservationists regarding the Park Service’s management of public park lands. Some of the most notable issues that have been litigated involve the reintroduction of wolves and snowmobile use in Yellowstone National Park, the use of off-road vehicles, such as jet skis and four-wheel all terrain vehicles throughout the park system, management of designated wilderness areas, and efforts to preserve the Florida Everglades.

 

Last Updated: November 2010