National Park Service

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National Park Service
- NPS -

The Arrowhead : The National Park Service's emblem
State level Federal authority
(US federal agency)
position Nature Conservation Authority u. a.
Supervisory authority United States Department of the Interior
founding August 25, 1916
Headquarters Washington, DC
Authority management vacant, Director
Servants 22,000 and
400,000 volunteers
Web presence

The National Park Service ( NPS , German  National Park Service ) is a federal agency in the United States with responsibility to the Ministry of Interior of the United States , whose task is to manage the US national parks and other protected areas and memorials. It is responsible for over 400 federally owned areas of cultural, historical or scenic importance.

In addition to the 59 national parks , other properties such as national monuments , historical parks, memorials, recreation areas, rivers and coastal areas belong to the administrative area of ​​the National Park Service, which together cover an area of ​​over 84 million acres (340,000 km²).

The largest park is Wrangell St. Elias National Park in Alaska , which at 13.2 million acres (53,000 km²) makes up 16% of the area under NPS management. The smallest park is the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania with about 80 square meters .

History and tasks

As a department of the US Department of the Interior, the National Park Service was founded on August 25, 1916 under US President Woodrow Wilson ; The driving force was then Minister Franklin Knight Lane . The National Park Service's responsibilities are to make the managed sites available to the public and to preserve the natural landscape and wildlife and historical monuments for future generations.

This idea was first implemented in 1872 with the opening of Yellowstone National Park . Originally, the focus was not on nature conservation , but on the task of creating natural parks for recreation and for the enjoyment of the population. The tourism aspect was also in the foreground when in the 1930s, as part of the New Deal, the Civilian Conservation Corps built streets, hiking trails, campsites and the first visitor centers in many as yet undeveloped parks. At the same time, the first ecological goals came to the fore. In 1916, the essay Animal Life as an Asset to National Parks by Joseph Grinnell and Tracy Irwin Storer in Science was influential , which led to the fact that biologists were hired in the US national parks for the first time, offered tours and designed exhibitions. In the 1920s and 1930s, the hunting of predators in the national parks was viewed increasingly critically and its role in ecology was reassessed. In 1933 the historical battlefields, which had been administered as memorials by the War Department, were placed under the National Park Service. Since then he has looked after more and more facilities that are preserved due to their historical importance.

Since the middle of the 20th century, in addition to the concept of protection, the education of visitors based on the concept of nature and culture that emerged in the NPS has become increasingly important. The mission 66 on the 50th anniversary of the NPS introduced nine years about one billion US dollars available, with which the visitor facilities and education was expanded. The last fundamental reform took place in 1978. Since then, the tasks of permanent preservation for future generations apply equally to all areas of the NPS, regardless of the type of their dedication . The Centennial Initiative had been running since 2007 in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016. It was financially significantly less than Mission 66 and brought no fundamental changes.

The National Park Service has used the arrowhead as a signet since 1952 . The Sequoia -tree and the Bison stand for the flora and fauna of the protected areas, the mountains and the water for the landscape and the Arrowhead (Arrowhead) for the protection of historical and archaeological goods.


The agency is managed by an NPS director appointed directly by the US President . Stephen T. Mather (term 1916–1929) was the founding director . Jon Jarvis, who was appointed in 2009 (18th) and who resigned in January 2017, has not yet found a permanent successor.

Almost every location of the NPS, the so-called units , has a visitor center with a museum and full-time rangers . Large units, especially the national parks, have their own scientific service. These are biologists, historians, paleontologists, forest scientists, geologists and members of other specialist areas depending on the focus of the area. Smaller units that fit together thematically and regionally usually share the scientific staff.

In the large protected areas, the National Park Service itself exercises police force , in most areas this is done by law enforcement rangers at the respective location. In Washington, DC , the NPS areas of New York City, and those in and around San Francisco , this function is the responsibility of the United States Park Police , a special federal police force within the NPS.

The National Park Service had a budget of $ 2.609 billion a year in 2013, with special funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act being made available for the first time since 2009 . Before that, the budget was covered at around 2 billion and inflation had not been adjusted for decades. New areas were added for this, so that the service has to make massive savings. Specialist personnel, especially in visitor care, are increasingly being replaced by voluntary volunteers, the maintenance of infrastructure is neglected, and the entrance fees to the large protected areas have been steadily increased from an experimental start in 1992. For the 2014 budget year, the National Park Service reports a backlog of infrastructure maintenance of 11.5 billion dollars, with the backlog growing steadily, not least because no inflation adjustment has taken place in the NPS budget since 2009.

Protected area types

In addition, the National Park Service oversees the National Historic Landmarks and National Natural Landmarks programs , as well as the National Register of Historic Places . However, these areas are typically not federally owned.


Web links

Commons : National Park Service  - collection of pictures, videos, and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Contact ,
  2. a b c FAQs from August 24, 2016, accessed on October 4, 2016.
  3. immediately: Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks FAQ
  4. Joseph Grinnell , Tracy Irwin Storer Animal Life as an Asset of National Parks . Science, September 15, 1916
  5. ^ Alfred Runte: "Animal Life As An Asset Of National Parks," A Path-Breaking Essay , Nationalparkstraveler September 18, 2016
  6. Redwood Act: 16 US Code § 1a – 1
  7. ^ National Park Service: The Arrowhead Patch
  8. ^ Mark Kaufman: How Trump bent the National Park Service to do his bidding. Accessed August 26, 2020 (English).
  9. Department of the Interior: Budget planning 2013 (PDF; 620 kB)
  10. ^ National Park Service: NPS FY 2014 Deferred Maintenance Reports