The Importance Of The National Park System

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Although sites in the National Park System can sometimes be difficult to categorize due to their diversity, each site is given a designation that attempts to best capture the nature and uses of site. As determined by Congress in 1970, all units within the system have equal legal standing. This means that all sites within the National Park System have equal protection under the law. The National Park System falls under the purview of the Department of the Interior.

Designations within the National Park System include:

* National Park * National Historical Park * National Recreation Area * National Parkway
* National Monument * National Memorial * National Seashore * National Trail
* National Preserve * National Battlefield * National Lakeshore * Affiliated Areas
* National Historic Site * National Cemetery * National River * Other Designations

Information on the National Park and National Monument designation are detailed in following pages. For more information on other designations, please visit the National Park Service website here.

National Parks

In 1872, the first ever national park – Yellowstone (pictured to the right) – was established as a public good “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” Yellowstone’s founding sparked a worldwide movement to preserve natural spaces for the enjoyment and enrichment of the public.

Though the concept of a “national park” first originated in the United States, today there over 1,000 parks in over 100 nations around the
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