On May 19, 1919, an organization of concerned citizens gathered just steps from the White House in Washington, D.C., to confront a looming crisis. The National Park Service, established just three years prior, was intended to unify and manage the country’s national parks. Its director, Stephen Tyng Mather, and his conservationist collaborator Robert Sterling Yard, a fierce former newspaper editor, understood that as a government organization, the National Park Service would be subject to the often inefficient and unpredictable mechanisms of government bureaucracy. The parks needed a voice “outside of government,” argued Yard, “and unhampered by politics and routine.” Yard gathered this collection of scientists, artists and civic leaders to sign articles of incorporation, and with Mather’s financial backing, the National Parks Association — known today as the National Parks Conservation Association — was born.
It wasn’t a moment too soon. By December of that year, the iconic elk herds of Yellowstone National Park were being decimated by hunters during their annual migration. Yard wrote an impassioned plea to his constituents, rallied a groundswell of support and raised the funds required to help keep the elk safe. This template of conservation through advocacy and public support set the stage for a century of dedicated, creative and essential defense of America’s common grounds.
For 100 years, the National Parks Conservation Association has been the voice of America’s national parks. Nonprofit and nonpartisan, NPCA and its 1.3 million members and supporters have worked to define the very standard of what it means to be a national park and fought tirelessly on the ground, in the courtroom and on Capitol Hill to preserve it. From Yellowstone to Gettysburg to the streets of Birmingham, NPCA advocacy has played a leading role in both protecting existing public lands and leading the charge to set aside new, vital locations that tell a more complete American story.
Here is your country. Do not let anyone take it or its glory away from you. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance. The World and the Future and your very children shall judge you according to (the way) you deal with this Sacred Trust.
With A Century of Impact, readers are invited to join NPCA’s centennial celebration and discover how this humble organization has helped to shape the National Park System as we know it. More than that, it is a compelling reminder that the future of this nation’s most sacred spaces lies in the hands of ordinary citizens, united to ensure that America’s best idea endures for generations to come.
- Title: National Parks Conservation Association: A Century of Impact
- Hardcover: 11.5", 192 pages, 300+ color photographs
- Publisher: Grandin Hood Publishers
- ISBN: 978-1-7339304-0-6