Fri, Oct. 18

National Park Service celebrates centennial

This year, 2016, the National Park Service (NPS) celebrates its centennial (100th) anniversary of its founding in 1916.

The centennial will be celebrated across the nation and in the 400-plus parks and historical sites maintained by the U.S. government.

It is all too easy in our world today to assume things were always thus, but the movement to set aside and preserve our rich and diverse natural, scenic beauty had actually began years before the founding of the NPS, when in the mid-1800s a small group of advocates had a vision -- what writer Wallace Stegner has called "the best idea we ever had" -- to ensure that America's greatest natural treasures would belong to everyone and remain preserved forever (quote from the National Geographic Travel website).

The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) announced Flagstaff Area National Monuments - Sunset Crater Volcano, Walnut Canyon and Wupatki and the Grand Canyon National Park - have been designated as International Dark Sky Parks by the IDA.

The monuments, park and their immediate environs produce little light pollution of their own, with minimal amounts from Walnut Canyon and Sunset Crater Volcano and almost no light pollution at Wupatki.

The monuments are near Flagstaff. Scott Feierabend, IDA Executive Director, stated that designating Grand Canyon National Park an International Dark-Sky Park is an important step in ensuring the Colorado Plateau remains a protective harbor for some of the best night skies in the county.

Naturalist John Muir, among others, brought the magnificence of said lands to those who had never seen them. His prolific writings manifested how these beautiful and scenic wild places were important for the soul, and his advocacy later led to the creation of several national parks.

National Parks are woven into the fabric of American life for so many generations that it's hard to imagine our nation without them. While the United States was the first country in the world to set aside land for everyone to enjoy, and to retain in its natural state, more than 100 other countries have adopted similar practices of land preservation through the creation of national parks or similarly reserved lands.

As Theodore Roosevelt said, "Keep it for your children, your children's children, and for all who come after you."

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