This week is also a perfect time to pause and consider how fortunate we are for the Park Service and for the lands and monuments that Congress has designated to be national treasures. Whether you are interested in preserving parklands, maintaining areas that depict geological changes, or saving monuments and lands that tell our American story, the National Park Service provides an enormous service to the American people by safeguarding these lands as part of our national heritage.
And if you can possibly sneak away this week to visit one of the parks’ 394 properties, you should: those that charge admission are waiving fees for the week.
The Original Concept
The concept for a national park system is generally credited to George Catlin (1796-1872), an artist who traveled the West painting Native Americans. He traveled extensively, eventually visiting more than fifty different tribes. While visiting the Dakotas in 1832 he worried about the encroachment of westward expansion. Catlin is quoted as having written that the lands should be preserved “by some great protecting policy of government …in a magnificent park…A nation’s park, containing man and beast in all the wild and freshness of their nature’s beauty!”