On August 25th 1916, Woodrow Wilson signed a bill that would create an agency to look over the already established National Parks. With the bill becoming law, the National Parks Service was born. Trout Unlimited has named September the month of public lands, but just 7 days before the calendar turns, there's reason to start the celebration early!
The National Parks Service is dedicated to "preserving the ecological and historical integrity of the places entrusted to its management while also making them available and accessible for public use and enjoyment." These places include all 412 national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and even the White House.
John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt were some of the founders of the National Parks system. Muir's writing from the Yosemite Valley helped convince Roosevelt and Congress that the land needed to be protected. Muir also helped get areas like Sequoia, Grand Canyon and Mt. Rainier listed as National Parks.
When the bill was signed into law 100 years ago, the NPS needed a leader and the first leader was Stephen Tyng Mather- a wealthy Chicago business man who ended up using a lot of his own fortune to advance the Park System. Mather worked to promote park access and development. During his tenure the service's domain expanded with the addition of Shenandoah, Great Smoky Mountains, and Mammoth Cave national parks.
Following Muir, Roosevelt, and Mather there were a plethora of leaders stepping up to the plate. In the last 100 years, the Parks Service has expanded and continues to protect public lands for sportsmen and women to use freely.
In Colorado there are four national parks: Rocky Mountain, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Mese Verde, and Great Sand Dunes. Along with the parks, there are 12 other protected areas- including the newest National Monument: Browns Canyon.
In honor of the 100th anniversary, the National Parks Service is offering free entrance to all National Parks on August 25th-28th.