The National Park Service celebrates 103 years with free admission on August 25.
Take a big breath—103 candles are a lot to blow out! Celebrate the National Park Service’s (NPS) 103rd birthday by heading out this weekend to “find your park.”
A lot has changed since President Woodrow Wilson established the NPS in 1916. Back then, there were only 35 national parks and monuments. Now? There are more than 400 NPS sites—from Alaska to Puerto Rico, from Maine to Guam—and all of them are offering free admission on Sunday, August 25 to mark the occasion.
Hit the beach one last time this summer at a national seashore or listen to the echoes of history at a national historical park. Whatever “your park” may be, the NPS has something for every type of visitor. Click here to find a park near you, and click here to check out special events happening around the country this weekend.
While Americans are out enjoying the national parks this weekend, policymakers should recall the reason for the establishment of the NPS: to preserve and protect America’s natural beauty for “the enjoyment of future generations.”
That mission is threatened today by the $11.9 billion deferred maintenance backlog in the parks. Infrastructure investment has failed to keep pace with growing demand, leaving trails, roads and other visitor facilities in disrepair.
The parks are important not only for their beauty and historical significance, but also for the role they play in supporting the American economy. In 2018, 318 million visitors to national parks spent $20.2 billion in and around NPS sites, generating a total economic impact of $40.1 billion and supporting 329,000 jobs. Gateway communities across the country rely on well-maintained parks and robust visitation, but the ever-growing deferred maintenance backlog throws the parks’ future into uncertainty.
We call on Congress to give the NPS the best birthday gift: support the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act (H.R. 1225) and the Restore Our Parks Act (S. 500) to establish a dedicated source of funding for the national parks and ensure the viability of these treasures for generations to come.