21 conservation triumphs from the past 100 years.
A century ago, the organization now known as the National Parks Conservation Association was founded with a mission to protect and enhance America’s national parks. The achievements highlighted below — just a representative sample of NPCA’s work — show that mission in action through the decades and across regions.
JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK, CA
A 2011 decision by the Supreme Court ended a decades-long battle to stop what would have been the nation’s largest landfill at Eagle Mountain — on a site surrounded on three sides by national park land.
ARCHES AND CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARKS, UT
By collaborating on a landmark oil and gas lease plan finalized in 2016, NPCA helped to protect 450,000 acres of Utah canyon country from harmful energy development.
KATAHDIN WOODS AND WATERS NATIONAL MONUMENT, ME
NPCA secured the 2016 designation of a new monument preserving more than 87,500 acres of deep forest along the East Branch of the Penobscot River.
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK, NC and TN
In 2011, NPCA marked a significant victory for regional air quality by brokering a historic agreement with the country’s largest power utility to retrofit or retire 54 of its 59 coal-fired boilers.
ALASKA NATIONAL PARKS & PRESERVES
As part of the Alaska Coalition, NPCA helped secure passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980, which protected over 100 million acres including 43.6 million acres of new national park land.
STONEWALL NATIONAL MONUMENT, NY
NPCA built strong support in the community, across the country and in Congress that resulted in the 2016 designation of the first national park site dedicated to LGBT history.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, ID, MT and WY
Shortly after its founding in 1919, NPCA began a century of advocacy in the world’s first national park by protecting Yellowstone’s elk population and defeating a proposal to dam the Yellowstone River.
EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK, FL
NPCA called for the establishment of an Everglades National Park as early as 1920, alarmed by the threats to this subtropical region and its wildlife — including the butchering of birds for the feather trade that saw some species hunted nearly to extinction. In 1934, NPCA spearheaded passage of the Everglades Act, the legislation that authorized the park’s creation and led to its designation 13 years later.
BIG CYPRESS NATIONAL PRESERVE, FL
When the native population of Florida panthers dwindled to about 30 in 1995, NPCA worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to transfer healthy, genetically similar Texas mountain lions to the greater Everglades — replenishing the gene pool and helping to triple the big cats’ numbers over the following decade.
BELMONT-PAUL WOMEN’S EQUALITY NATIONAL MONUMENT, DC
NPCA partnered with the National Woman’s Party to successfully advocate for the 2016 creation of a national park site commemorating the history of women’s suffrage.
TALLGRASS PRAIRIE NATIONAL PRESERVE, KS
NPCA led the effort to protect the planet’s largest remaining tallgrass prairie — just a fraction of the 170 million acres that once covered America’s heartland — capping decades of advocacy with the creation of this site in 1996.
PULLMAN NATIONAL MONUMENT, IL
With strong community support, NPCA led the campaign to establish Pullman National Monument in 2015. The park preserves important stories of American industry, labor, urban planning and the first African American union.
BIRMINGHAM CIVIL RIGHTS NATIONAL MONUMENT, AL
To help preserve and illuminate a critical chapter in the civil rights movement, NPCA led the campaign for a new national monument in what once was the most segregated city in the nation. President Barack Obama established the site in 2017.
GETTYSBURG NATIONAL MILITARY PARK, PA
NPCA has long fought to preserve the historic character of Gettysburg. On three separate occasions between 2006 and 2017, the organization helped foil plans to build a casino a short distance from the hallowed grounds.
BUFFALO NATIONAL RIVER, AR
NPCA played a prominent role in defeating a proposal to dam a major tributary of the nation’s first national river. The 2002 Justice Department ruling set a national precedent, showing the importance of allowing the National Park Service to weigh in when parks were at risk, even if the threat originated outside park boundaries.
SAN ANTONIO MISSIONS NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK, TX
Working in partnership with the local community, NPCA successfully advocated for the missions’ designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.
OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK, WA
In 1943, a pointed editorial in National Parks magazine was part of a campaign that helped to rescue Olympic’s old-growth spruce forests from wartime logging interests.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, MT
NPCA promoted the 2014 passage of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act, bipartisan legislation that safeguards the headwaters to Glacier and Flathead Lake and protects Waterton-Glacier, the world’s first international peace park.
CHESAPEAKE & OHIO CANAL NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK, DC, MD and WV
In 1954, when The Washington Post endorsed a Park Service proposal to turn the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal into a parkway, NPCA leaders joined Justice William O. Douglas to hike all 185 miles of the canal’s towpath in protest. It worked; the proposal was scuttled, and the C&O was protected first as a national monument and, in 1971, as a national historical park.
GREAT BASIN NATIONAL PARK, NV
After 30 years of advocacy, NPCA played a lead role in the 1986 creation of Great Basin National Park, home to limestone caves, ancient bristlecone pines and famously dark skies.
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, AZ
Several years ago, NPCA played a key role in protecting the Grand Canyon from one of the worst threats in the park’s history, a massive development — including 2,100 housing units and 3 million square feet of commercial space — proposed near the South Rim.