Today is our birthday: 100 years old! The national parks include 413 of the country’s most distinctive places, from iconic scenery such as Yosemite and the Everglades to historic sites like Gettysburg and Little Rock High School, as well as monuments, seashores, recreation areas and wildlife habitats.
More than 300 million people visited the national parks last year, and we’re on pace to surpass last year’s record attendance.
National Parks are huge economic drivers: Tourism to Gettysburg and Eisenhower Parks created $95 Million in economic benefits in 2015. More than 1 million visitors to Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site in 2015 spent $71.1 million in communities near the park, supporting 977 jobs in the local area .
Public-private partnerships at Gettysburg and throughout the system help fund essential education programs, historic preservation, wildlife protection and building repairs at hundreds of national parks, monuments and recreation areas. This type of support helped create many of the new parks, especially the newest: Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument which was created yesterday and includes 87,500 acres of land donated to the National Park Service.
Let’s look back at how it all got started. Established in 1872, Yellowstone was the first National Park in the world. Gettysburg was one of four “national military parks” created in the 1890s, many years before there was a National Park Service. The War Department managed these battlefield parks and continued to use the fields for training exercises. The others were Chickamauga and Chattanooga, authorized in 1890, Shiloh in 1894 and Vicksburg in 1899.
National Park Service established in 1916. Organic Act “ … to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife 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 …
The first parks were all natural areas. When the NPS began to manage historic sites like battlefields there was a learning curve. It required a different approach. Eventually we became the leaders for how to do interpretive programs that tell the stories of some of the most important moments in American history.
Stats about the NPS:
- The system includes 413 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
- Approximately 22,000 permanent, temporary, and seasonal employees…diverse professionals
- Largest: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, AK, at 13.2 million acres
- Smallest: Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, PA, at 0.02 acres
- Total recreation visitors to the national parks in 2015: 307,247,252
- An extraordinary group of Volunteers-in-Parks (440,000 people) donated 7.9 million hours of service to our parks in 2015.
THE LATEST AT GETTYSBURG AND EISENHOWER…
Gettysburg National Military Park
- $6.8 million FY 2016 federal budget
- $68 million Visitor spending in 2015
- 1,154,585 Visitors in 2015, an increase of 5.4% over 2014
- 6,034 Acres in the park boundary
- 3012 People donated 41,028 hours of service in FY 2015
- 61 Permanent employees and 36 seasonal employees in FY 2016
Eisenhower National Historic Site
- $1.1 million FY 2016 federal budget
- $3.1 million Visitor spending in 2015
- 54,377 Visitors in 2015, a decrease of 6.6% compared with 2014
- 769 People donated 19,934 hours of service in FY 2015
- 690 Acres in the park boundary
- 8 Permanent employees and 3 seasonal employees in FY 2016
As we close out the Centennial year we continue to have more programs:
- Farm to Table dinner at Eisenhower on August 27.
- Friends of Gettysburg’s ‘Recruit’ Pick and Party on August 28.
- Presidential Paint and Wine night on Sept. 22 at Eisenhower NHS.
- Artists in Residence programs which will continue through 2017.
Centennial Legacy Projects funded in part by the Gettysburg Foundation…
- The rehab of Cemetery Ridge at Ziegler’s Grove, including bringing back Ziegler’s Ravine and the Hancock Avenue gate.
- Planning to address overcrowding and erosion at Little Round Top.
- Maintaining the historic landscapes of the two parks, including new ideas. We have local farmers, and we’ve had them for years but now we have them growing grain for a local distillery. We’re embracing the “Eat local” movement.
- Possible opportunities to preserve historic structures such as farm houses through leasing, possibly even with public opportunities to stay in the homes like other parks are doing in Cape Cod and the C & O Canal.
- New education programs with support from the Gettysburg Foundation.
Most importantly we’re looking forward to another century of service to you, the American public. Come visit. Find Your Park.
Katie Lawhon, 8/25/2016