Appreciating Our Western National Parks
By Tacy Lambiase
This week, we’re celebrating some of the most important anniversaries in the history of the National Park Service. Grand Teton National Park, founded on February 26, 1929, and Yellowstone National Park, founded on March 1, 1872, are two of the most iconic and beloved national parks in the United States. Every year, thousands of people visit these parks to experience the beauty and majesty of our natural environment. The establishment of these two protected areas continues to be a testament to our country’s recognition of how important national parks are to preserving wilderness habitats.
Stretching across Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, Yellowstone National Park draws millions of visitors every year to see its impressive mountain ranges, canyons and wildlife. But while Yellowstone has become famous for its plethora of geysers and bubbly hot springs, this national park is also known for beginning a worldwide effort to protect and preserve natural environments. Founded by Congress through the Act of March 1,1872, Yellowstone became the world’s first national park. According to the National Park Service, the creation of Yellowstone sparked a “worldwide national park movement” that has so far led to the establishment of 1,200 national parks and preserves in more than 100 countries. Since 1872, the United States alone has protected enough land to warrant the creation of 59 national parks to preserve beautiful landscapes and natural resources for future generations.
The next-door neighbor of Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park was established in 1929 through an executive order signed by President Calvin Coolidge. Almost an extension of Yellowstone (the parks are only 10 miles apart from each other), Grand Teton National Park encompasses the Teton Range and several lakes at its base. Home to hundreds of plant and animal species, Grand Teton provides visitors and residents of Wyoming with a pristine environment perfect for outdoor recreation and exploration.
Although more than 84 million acres of land are protected in national parks across the country, Americans must continue advocating for the well-being of their public lands. While Grand Teton and Yellowstone remain protected under federal law, the health of their forests remains in jeopardy. In recent years, the forests in these iconic parks have become threatened by mountain pine beetles, white pine blister rust and a warming climate. Through our Endangered Western Forests program, American Forests has developed a six-point plan to protect and restore forests in the Greater Yellowstone Area. With initiatives to plant blister rust-resistant seedlings and partner with local organizations, American Forests hopes to ensure that these national parks can continue celebrating their anniversaries for many years to come. Join us in protecting these treasured national parks.