The National Park Service celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016! But what exactly does the NPS do? The agency is tasked with managing, maintaining and conserving all 59 U.S. National Parks along with 350 other federal sites. They preserve national history, conserve natural beauty and care for communities across the country.
Before the National Park Service, the future of our national parks was dire. Yellowstone, the first national park, was established in 1872 but the National Park Service wasn't formed until 1916. In the interim, Yellowstone and all the other parks were governed independently and with little success. Yellowstone was mismanaged in turn by the federal regulators, a civilian staff and the U.S. Army before prominent businessman Stephan Mather intervened. Alarmed by the exploitative opportunists, poachers, and robbers that were plaguing the park, he pleaded the case of Yellowstone to Secretary of the Interior Franklin Lane. For the ongoing protection and prosperity of the parks, he decided to form a new federal agency dedicated to preserving the purity of our national parks. The National Park Service was created, they saved Yellowstone and 100 years later our National Parks are still thriving.