We celebrate 2022 for the strides made in protecting parks, preserving land and wildlife, and honoring important sites in our nation’s progress toward equality — accomplishments that could not have been made without our many park advocates.
Here’s a look at some of the year’s most significant causes for celebration.
1. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which authorized nearly $1 billion for the National Park Service to respond to climate change.
Millions of park supporters and climate activists celebrated the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act. The bill is ambitious and inspires a long-range vision for our parks by creating jobs, restoring habitats, protecting resources, supporting endangered species and much more. Learn more about the costly toll of climate change in our national parks.
2. Some of country’s oldest and most beautiful landscapes gained protections against natural and human-made threats.
2022 kicked off with Everglades National Park receiving the largest federal investment in its history, in which $1.1 billion goes toward restoration and increased resilience to the impacts of climate change. Later, amid summer wildfires, the U.S. Forest Service announced it would protect giant sequoias from climate-fueled wildfires through new emergency fuel reduction treatments.
In late December, members of Congress crossed the aisle to prioritize and pass the National Heritage Area Act, creating a formal system for America’s national heritage areas and designating seven new ones to help communities protect priceless, diverse American history across the country.
3. The Senate and the House unanimously passed the Amache National Historic Site Act, creating one of our newest park sites.
The history of a Japanese American incarceration site operating in Colorado during World War II isn’t easy to hear. More than 5,000 Americans were unconstitutionally imprisoned — unwelcome in their own country because they had Japanese faces and names. However, as the country evolves to become more inclusive, it is important to remember the full picture of our nation’s history. As a protected historic site, Amache is a place where we can honor those who were unjustly imprisoned.
4. A bill was introduced in Congress to expand the César E. Chávez National Monument, presenting an opportunity to create a new national historical park.
We celebrated the designation of this site over a decade ago when President Barack Obama established the César E. Chávez National Monument under the Antiquities Act. This year, a bill proposing to expand the site was introduced in an effort to tell the stories of other important leaders and historical aspects of the farmworker movement.
5. Camp Hale-Continental Divide became President Biden’s first national monument under the Antiquities Act.
In the 1940s, an Army training ground in Colorado called Camp Hale helped our soldiers defeat Nazi Germany. As time went on, the area also gained recognition as an outdoor recreational treasure for its rock climbing, skiing and snowshoeing landscapes. President Biden honored U.S. Army veterans by establishing Camp Hale as a national monument.
6. The Blackwell School campus became one of the first national park sites dedicated to Latino and Hispanic history.
Some schools in the Southwest practiced segregated learning well into the 1960s, forcing Spanish-speaking students to attend separate classes and even schools such as Blackwell, away from their white, English-speaking peers. Though this history is complex, park supporters and the community around the Blackwell School fought to preserve the building that played such an important role in America’s journey to equality. President Biden’s designation of the half-acre campus as a national historic site will allow the stories that live within the schoolhouse walls to be told for years to come, painting a more inclusive and complete picture of American history.
7. Together, we amplified Native American voices and fought for Native lands.
President Biden committed to protecting Avi Kwa Ame, nearly 450,000 acres of land in southern Nevada. This land is not only considered sacred to a dozen Indigenous Tribes who advocated for its protection for decades, it also provides crucial habitats for native fauna and flora. We look forward to the official designation of protected land in 2023.
The Bureau of Land Management reached a historic agreement with Indigenous leaders in Utah, giving five Native American Tribes the authority to co-manage Bears Ears National Monument. Now, the people who have been living on the land for generations can draw on their 13,000 years of history and knowledge to properly preserve it.
Yellowstone turned 150 years old, and NPCA and the National Park Service celebrated its rich history and Native origins. In addition to an exploration of the roots of the “First Family” to live in Yellowstone, the commemorations included an Indigenous teepee village and a Native interpretive center at the park over the summer.
8. NPCA turned to our veterans for their perspectives and experiences by establishing a new Veterans Council.
NPCA has engaged veterans and their families in advocacy work and park projects for years, such as restoring native plants in Santa Monica Mountains, supporting hurricane recovery at Dry Tortugas, building new trails at Ebey’s Landing or meeting with members of Congress. In 2022, we officially launched the Veterans Council. In this partnership, 13 veterans continue to serve their country by providing advice and perspective to advance NPCA’s policies and campaigns that protect national parks — a level of engagement that further builds community and strengthen our parks.
9. Conservationists fought to give wildlife safe passage throughout the country.
In North Carolina, the state’s transportation department is constructing a wildlife underpass as part of a bridge replacement on Interstate 40 through the Pigeon River Gorge near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, thanks to work by NPCA and other groups. This year, NPCA and Wildlands Network conducted research into additional strategies for reducing vehicle collisions on I-40 with bears, elk and other animals moving through the area.
In Alaska, wildlife activists rejoiced as the Bureau of Land Management began to reevaluate its permits for the Ambler mining road, which is proposed for an area of Alaska where over 188,000 Western Arctic Caribou migrate each year. The herd, which has already declined in population, need their vast range to remain intact to adapt in a changing climate.
10. Emmett Till’s life has gotten closer to being honored with a park site designation.
NPCA and our allies have been building support to memorialize Chicago native Emmett Till, a Black teen whose murder in rural Mississippi sparked some of the most impactful events of the civil rights movement, and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who fought for justice in his memory. We’re thrilled that the National Park Service released Dec. 21 its Mississippi Civil Rights Sites Special Resource Study that affirms Till’s murder is suitable for inclusion in the park system. As we enter the new year with hopes for a new national park site, we invite you to learn more about Emmett Till and support the call to honor his life.
About the author
Chyla Anderson Online Engagement Manager
As Online Engagement Manager, Chyla works to engage park supporters at every stage of their journey, empowering them to form long-lasting relationships with our parks.