100 Years of “America’s Best Idea”- the National Park Service Turns 100!

Sunrise over Glacier Bay National Park.

Sunrise over Glacier Bay National Park. Image courtesy of the Deepwater Exploration of Glacier Bay National Park expedition. Download high resolution image (jpg, 8.1 Mb)

March 24, 2016

Tom VandenBerg
National Park Service
Bartlett Cove, Glacier Bay National Park, AK

National Park Service Centennial Celebration.

National Park Service Centennial Celebration. Image courtesy of Tom VandenBerg.

This year, 2016, marks the centennial of the National Park Service. This year, we look back at our history and forward to new opportunities and the next generation of park advocates. The Deepwater Exploration of Glacier Bay National Park expedition team aboard the Norseman II joins a long legacy of adventurers inspired by Glacier Bay. As a park established for science, this expedition perfectly represents the idea of connecting to our public lands for inspiration, knowledge, and discovery! The underwater world of Glacier Bay is just as magnificent as the sights seen above!

The Park Idea

Creating a National Park Service was not easy. In the 19th Century, the idea of preserving special natural and cultural places in public ownership ran contrary to the prevailing idea of nature as a commodity. But as wilderness receded and remnants of prehistoric civilizations and revolutionary landmarks were lost, outstanding examples of our nation's heritage needed to be protected.

The First Parks

It began in 1864, when the Federal Government gave Yosemite Valley to the State of California to be "held for public use, resort, and recreation... for all time." Eight years later, Congress created the world’s first national park, Yellowstone, as "a public park or pleasure-ing ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people." More large western parks followed. Though without funding, or even one employee, it was up to Army cavalry units to develop and protect these fledging parks.

An otter hunts just outside of Bartlett Cove.

An otter hunts just outside of Bartlett Cove. Click image for credit and larger view.

Birth of a National Park Service

In 1916, Congress created the National Park Service with the mission: "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." Since then, the American people have entrusted the National Park Service with the care of their most special places. Today, there are 409 sites covering more than 84 million acres in every state. Some parks commemorate notable people and achievements, and others conserve magnificent landscapes and natural wonders. National Parks, “America’s best idea,” tell America’s story and connect us with our history, our environment, ourselves, and each other.

Amanda Kelley, left, talks to two visitors during the inport open house at Bartlett Cove.

Amanda Kelley, left, talks to two visitors during the inport open house at Bartlett Cove. Click image for credit and larger view.

Centennial Events

Join the celebration! This year, there will be special events and activities throughout the country. While in Glacier Bay National Park, visitors will spend time with the park rangers to learn and become inspired by the park’s limitless opportunities for reflection, awe, and wonder. For those of you not located in Alaska, explore the parks near your home and spread the word. You can also help connect future generations to parks by helping youth explore careers with the National Park Service, volunteering, advocating for the preservation of what you find special, and sharing your park stories with others at FindYourPark.com

For us here at Glacier Bay National Park, we have a series of exciting activities scheduled for the centennial celebration at our headquarters at Bartlett Cove, including the “Grand Opening” of the Huna Tribal House in August.

Deepwater Exploration of Glacier Bay National Park

A couple of days ago, a few of us joined the mission team for a day at sea, where we were able to get a better sense of the work being done during this project. During our trip, we explored the submerged communities near Johns Hopkins Glacier. We also hosted several visitors today to talk to the scientists, learn more about the coral communities that exist in the park, and tour the Norseman II.

Rhian Waller and Dann Blackwood work on developing a map with all of dive sites so far.

Rhian Waller and Dann Blackwood work on developing a map with all of dive sites so far. Click image for larger view and image credit.


A group of visitors are shown the ROV by Kevin Joy during the open house in Bartlett Cove.

A group of visitors are shown the remotely operated vehicle by Kevin Joy during the open house in Bartlett Cove. Click image for larger view and image credit.


 

 

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