Austin Adventures, a trend-setter in luxury multisport and active family vacations worldwide, offers hiking programs into Arizona’s Havasu Canyon and its legendary travertine pools and waterfalls. This spring it is offering a special departure guided by its two most accomplished trip leaders that combines for the first time a South Rim of the Grand Canyon hike with in-depth exploration of the waterfalls and wonders of one of Arizona’s most iconic destinations, Havasu.
“We have taken our already popular Havasu Basecamp Adventure and enhanced it with more quality time in the Grand Canyon,” explains Dan Austin, company founder and president. “And the kicker is that two of our most beloved senior guides will be leading this very special departure.”
Guests on Austin Adventures’ five-day/four-night tour will enjoy the company and services of Outside Magazine’s top family guide, Kasey Austin, along with master guide Matty (K) Kirkland who has been with the company since its inception.
“We wanted to create a special Grand Canyon departure in tribute to the centennial of the founding of America’s National Park System,” Austin says. “Families with kids 10 and older will find this appealing as the March date dovetails nicely with many school spring break schedules.”
The Arizona South Rim & Havasupai Adventure on Mar. 19-23, 2016 begins and ends in Scottsdale, AZ. The first day is spent exploring the Grand Canyon’s South Rim starting at Desert Watchtower followed by a hike on the South Kaibab Trail. Tonight guests enjoy dinner perched along the rim at the historic El Tovar Lodge.
A three-hour drive the next morning brings the group to Hualapai Hilltop and the trailhead for the 10-mile descent into Havasu Canyon. Numerous switchbacks dive deep into the red sandstone labyrinth until a level streambed is reached. When the vegetation turns lush as the Canyon widens at mile eight, guests enter Supai, one of the most remote villages in the United States. Here, the mail still arrives by packhorse. It’s then a short hike past two spectacular waterfalls to the deluxe basecamp, home for the next three nights. Note: At trip’s end, those not wishing to hike back out may request (for an extra fee) conveyance by helicopter or horseback.
Basecamp is a serious affair with a well-stocked backcountry kitchen, oversized tents and plush sleeping bags and pads. Its centralized location is the key to full exploration and enjoyment of the Canyon. The creek that carved Havasu spills over five major falls, the biggest of which, Mooney Falls, drops over 190 feet. The water temperature of about 70 degrees remains relatively constant throughout the year. Over millennia, the high mineral content and carbonate precipitate in the water has created countless pools, dams and drops. With new formations forming all the time, the flow of the creek is ever-changing. Day hikes are certain to culminate with a swim in the turquoise waters.
“Teal blue waters, lush foliage, squash and wild grape vines growing like weeds, pomegranate and apricot trees lining the dusty path and waterfalls all around. So unexpected and so beautiful!” –wrote one recent guest.
The per person, double occupancy rate of $1,998 ($280 single supplement) includes lodging, all meals, trailside snacks, fully trained, first-aid certified professional guides, vehicle support and land transportation during the trip, Austin Adventures T-shirt, water bottle, luggage tags and luggage service, packing information, taxes, dining and housekeeping gratuities, and national park entrance and permit fees. Because this is a spur of the Grand Canyon, hiking permits, that can be hard to obtain, are included.
Based in Billings, MT, Austin Adventures (formerly Austin-Lehman Adventures) has spent more than 40 years building an international reputation as a provider of scheduled small group tours and customized trips to all seven continents. In 2013, Austin Adventures joined the Xanterra Parks & Resorts® portfolio of experiential leisure offerings that includes operations in Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Zion, Crater Lake, Glacier, Rocky Mountain and Petrified Forest National Parks; Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley National Park; and five Ohio State Park Lodges as well as the Geneva Marina at Ohio’s Geneva State Park. Xanterra Parks & Resorts also owns and operates Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel in Williams, Ariz., the Grand Hotel in Tusayan, Ariz., Windstar Cruises, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, Country Walkers and Austin Adventures.
More than 140,000 kids will have the opportunity to visit federal public lands and waters in the 2015-2016 school year, thanks to 186 grants from the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks. These grants, part of the Foundation’s Open OutDoors for Kids program, support the White House youth initiative Every Kid in a Park.
“It is inspiring to see the National Park Foundation and many other partners step up to support our goal of getting fourth graders and their families into parks, public lands and waters that belong to all Americans,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “These generous grants will ensure children across the country have an opportunity to experience the great outdoors in their community while developing a lifelong connection to our nation’s land, water and wildlife.”
The 186 grants announced total $1.1 million and provide funding to remove barriers to accessing our nation’s public lands and waters, with a special focus on underserved and urban communities. With cutbacks in school funding for field trips, this strategic funding will help provide comprehensive access to all federal sites, including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, marine sanctuaries and more.
“We have long known that kids learn better when they have opportunities to practice what they are learning in school, and parks and public lands offer them great opportunities to get their feet wet while collecting water samples, studying wildlife in its natural habitat, or exploring the places where history happened,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “These grants provided by the National Park Foundation will connect schoolchildren with public lands and waters, taking the lessons out of their schoolbooks and bringing them to life.”
National Park Foundation grants, supported by Disney, have made it possible for more than 400,000 students (including this year’s grantees) to visit national parks and other public lands and waters. Since 2014, Disney has been the lead sponsor of Open OutDoors for Kids, opening a world of possibilities, inspiration and adventure for young people.
“We want to help people everywhere, from all backgrounds, discover how national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands and waters are relevant to their lives, and the best way to do that is to give people the opportunity to experience them first-hand,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “Through our grants that provide funding for transportation and in-park learning, we are able to connect youth and their families to these special places and inspire people across the country to find their park which, in turn, can foster a lifelong connection to all that public lands and waters have to offer.”
The National Park Foundation is leading the on-the-ground efforts for Every Kid in a Park in collaboration with the National Park Service, Forest Service, Department of Education, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Collaborations between schools, teachers, youth groups, Friends Groups, and other partner organizations make each grantee’s project possible. Examples include:
Boston African American National Historic Site (Massachusetts)
More than 600 fourth-graders in the Boston Public Schools system will visit the park and learn about the importance of the African American community in Boston and the fight against slavery.
Libby Dam and Lake Koocanusa (Montana)
More than 170 fourth-graders will use a stream table model with conservation district partners, visit with a wildlife rehabilitator and see live birds of prey, learn about animal track identification, tour the dam and outdoor recreation areas, and go on a nature hike and scavenger hunt.
Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (Idaho)
100 fourth-graders from Reed Elementary School will hike in the footsteps of those who traversed the Oregon Trail.
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (Michigan)
Approximately 650 fourth-graders from local schools will get hands-on experience exploring underwater shipwrecks with robots, taking water samples in the Thunder Bay River, and learning the effects of climate change with NOAA scientists.
Pisgah Ranger District (North Carolina)
More than 150 fourth-graders from local schools will have the opportunity to be “gumshoes” and travel back to 1905 to learn tools and traditions from mountain culture, including washing clothes with a washboard and forest water.
Patuxent Research Refuge (Maryland)
500 Baltimore, Prince George’s, and Fairfax county public school fourth-graders will participate in wetland observation and water quality sampling, outdoor wildlife and habitat games , an educational tram ride, and a woodland scavenger hunt.
Saguaro National Park (Arizona)
2,550 fourth-graders from Tucson schools will explore the Hohokam culture by creating petroglyphs, digging into the past with archeologist tools, tasting foods of O’odham and Mexican cultures, and engaging in homesteading chores like those of the Hispanic and Anglo-American settlers. Students will also learn about hunting and gathering during hikes through the park.
The National Park Foundation thanked Disney for its generous support of Open OutDoors for Kids.
Individuals, foundations, and corporations can visit www.nationalparks.org/everykidinapark to contribute to the National Park Foundation’s efforts to support Every Kid in a Park. You can also view the full list of grantees, and their projects, on the same website.
To participate in the Every Kid in a Park program, fourth graders nationwide can visit www.everykidinapark.gov and download a free pass.
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards. Find out more and become a part of the national park community at www.nationalparks.org.
In the spirit of 2016’s National Park Centennial Celebration, small ship cruise expert AdventureSmith Explorations is offering a different way to experience our National Parks: cruise a park.
While Alaska has the whale’s share of cruises in National Parks, and therefore many choices of ship size and amenities, the San Juan Islands and Oregon’s Columbia River are key players as well.
ALASKA Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve covers over three million acres with open ocean and fjord coastlines spanning most of its perimeter. This means that the small vessels that AdventureSmith Explorations employs access many of the coves and landings around hundreds of miles. Examples of itineraries here are three eight-day programs: Exploring Muir’s Wilderness on the 84-guest Safari Endeavor; Northern Passages & Glacier Bay on the 60-guest Wilderness Adventurer, 74-guest Wilderness Explorer or 76-guest Wilderness Discoverer; and Discoverers Glacier Country on the 22-guest Safari Quest, the 36-guest Safari Explorer, the 60-guest Wilderness Adventurer or the 84-guest Safari Endeavour. Itineraries have themed departures the week of Aug. 25, 2016 celebrating the Centennial, with commemoration gifts, guest speakers, evening onboard presentations focused on the history of the National Parks, surprise birthday celebrations and special presentations by Park Rangers on board while in Glacier Bay.
For those that want to see as much of Glacier Bay National Park as possible on a cruise, the six-day Glacier Bay Adventure Cruise is the only Inside Passage small ship cruise that spends most of its itinerary inside the park. The itinerary travels from waterfall-laden Geike Inlet to the barren mountain faces of the East and West arms of Glacier Bay National Park, then routes outside the park to Point Adolphus for whale watching. Hundreds of miles of glacial fjords are here for kayaking, hiking and small ship cruising. The base of exploration is the historic 12-passenger small ship M/V Sea Wolf, owned and operated by Alaskans.
Kenai Fjords National Park, on the edge of the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage, covers an area of nearly 670,000 acres, 51 percent of which is ice. A number of lodge-based itineraries allow guests to spend ample time on the water boating through Kenai Fjords. To access most of these remote lodges, guests embark by boat from Seward on a five-hour wildlife and tidewater glacier journey. Kenai Fjords Backcountry Explorer over seven days reveals by raft and boat and on shore the many of the activities and animals on the Native-owned, 1,700-acre Pedersen Lagoon Wildlife Sanctuary. The eight-day Ultimate Alaska Adventure pairs backcountry adventure and wild Alaska by sea kayaking in Kenai Fjords National Park, a helicopter landing onto a glacial snowpack, a floatplane journey to a remote mountain lake and more.
LOWER 48 Olympic National Park, at nearly 1 million acres along Washington’s coast, is famed for its diversity of ecosystems and rich cultural history. Olympic Wilderness & San Juan Islands is an eight-day-expedition along this coastline from the comfort of the 60-guest Wilderness Adventurer or the 76-guest Wilderness Discoverer. Kayaks and paddleboards sail aboard, allowing guests to actively explore the park’s coves and canals.
Lewis & Clark National Historical Park at Fort Clatsop in Astoria, Oregon, is a hub focusing on the lore of early explorers. Two small ship itineraries visiting here herald the legacy of two great western rivers: the Columbia and the Snake. Columbia & Snake Rivers Journey over seven days embraces culture and history with food and wine bounties of the Pacific Northwest. This trip recently acquired Food Alliance affiliation ensuring that local and sustainable are prominent in in every culinary presentation. Guests will be on board either 62-passenger National Geographic Sea Bird or 62-passenger National Geographic Sea Lion. Over eight days on Legacy of Discovery guests aboard the 88-guest S.S. Legacy that emulates a turn-of-century steamer traverse the nearly 1,000 miles of history on the Columbia River Gorge.
ARRIVE BY TRAIN OR PLANE
Some of AdventureSmith Explorations’ itineraries define remote to its core, with guests going beyond the boat, being transported to a National Park by small plane or train. There are fly-to itineraries accessing Katmai National Park including Brown Bears of Katmai, a five-day program recommended as a cruise extension. On Denali Backcountry Explorer guests explore the wilderness from a lodge deep in Denali National Park and Preserve with access that may include a bus or train from Anchorage.
Alaska Coast to Denali is a cruise-a-park highlight, visiting two national parks over seven days via boat and train. The itinerary starts with a small boat cruise into a Kenai Fjords National Park lodge, travels overland to Denali National Park and Preserve and then concludes with a scenic train ride on the Alaska Railroad to Anchorage.
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (both D-CA) have introduced legislation to expand the Martinez, California historic site that celebrates the life and legacy of John Muir. The John Muir National Historic Site Expansion Act would authorize the National Park Service to acquire land that is being donated through a trust, which would improve access to the park and provide more for visitors to see and do at the site.
“John Muir was the father of the National Park Service and he worked tirelessly to preserve our country’s public lands for future generations,” Senator Boxer said. “This bill will honor his legacy by improving public access to this historic site, providing more for visitors to do, and connecting the site to the Bay Area Ridge Trail.”
“With the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, it would be a fitting tribute to honor John Muir by expanding the site where he lived, wrote and brought to life the conservation movement. Today we have over 400 National Parks, and I am honored to represent the place where this idea was born and where it developed into a model to be copied throughout the world,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11).
Although the land is being donated by the Muir Heritage Land Trust, Congressional approval of the acquisition is necessary because the acreage of the donated land parcel exceeds the percentage of land that the Park Service is allowed to acquire administratively.
The 44-acre addition would include lands once part of the estate of John Swett, a former California Superintendent of Public Education who helped found the California Teachers Association, and was a neighbor and friend to John Muir in the Alhambra Valley Hills.
Muir is considered the “father of the National Park Service.” He was a lifelong conservationist who helped create Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, and was a founder of the Sierra Club. The John Muir National Historic Site, which stretches across 330 acres currently, includes the home where Muir lived until he died in 1914.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) joined Boxer and DeSaulnier as an original cosponsor of the legislation.
Former Congressman George Miller (D-Martinez) first introduced the bill on November 13, 2014, and it passed the House in December 2014.
President Obama went home to Chicago to launch the “Every Kid in a Park” initiative that will provide all fourth grade students and their familieswith free admission to National Parks and other federal lands and waters for a full year.
At the same time, the President announced the creation of three new National Monuments across the country, including the Pullman National Monument in Illinois, a location iconic for its history of labor unrest and civil rights advances, which will be Chicago’s first National Park Service (NPS) unit; Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii, the site of an internment camp where Japanese American citizens, resident immigrants, and prisoners of war were held captive during World War II, and Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado, an historic site of extraordinary beauty with world-class recreational opportunities that attract visitors from around the globe.
“Together, these monuments will help tell the story of significant events in American history and protect unique natural resources for the benefit of all Americans,” the White House said.
“No matter who you are, no matter where you live, our parks and our monuments, our lands, our waters — these places are the birthright of all Americans,” President Obama said.
But of the three, the Pullman National Monument has special significance for the President, not just for its importance to the labor movement and the civil rights movement. As he related the story:
“This place has been a milestone in our journey toward a more perfect union,” President Obama said.
“So this site is at the heart of what would become America’s Labor Movement — and as a consequence, at the heart of what would become America’s middle class. And bit by bit, we expanded this country’s promise to more Americans. But too many still lived on the margins of that dream.
“The white workers who built Pullman’s rail cars won new rights. But those rights were not extended to the black porters who worked on these cars — the former slaves, and sons and grandsons who made beds and carried luggage and folded sheets and shined shoes. And they worked as many as 20 hours a day on less than three hours’ sleep just for a couple dollars a day. Porters who asked for a living wage, porters who asked for better hours or better working conditions were told they were lucky to have a job at all. If they continued to demand better conditions, they were fired. It seemed hopeless to try and change the status quo.
“But a few brave men and women saw things differently. And one summer night in 1925, porters packed a hall in Harlem, and a young man there named A. Philip Randolph led the meeting. And what A. Philip Randolph said was, “What this is about,” he said, “is making you master of your economic fate.” Making you master of your economic fate. And so he and others organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters around the strategy that he would employ throughout his life: “If you stand firm and hold your ground, in the long run you’ll win.”
“That was easier said than done. Over the years, Brotherhood leaders and supporters were fired, they were harassed. But true to A. Philip Randolph’s call, they stood firm, they held their ground. And 12 years to the day after A. Philip Randolph spoke in that hall in Harlem, they won, and Pullman became the first large company in America to recognize a union of black workers.
“And this was one of the first great victories in what would become the Civil Rights Movement. It wouldn’t be the last victory. It was his union that allowed A. Philip Randolph to pressure President Roosevelt to desegregate the defense industry. It was those Pullman porters who gave the base by which A. Philip Randolph could convince President Truman to desegregate the Armed Forces. It was those porters who helped lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott, who were the central organizers of the March on Washington.
“And that’s not just the story of a movement, that’s the story of America. Because as Americans, we believe that workers’ rights are civil rights. That dignity and opportunity aren’t just gifts to be handed down by a generous government or by a generous employer; they are rights given by God, as undeniable and worth protecting as the Grand Canyon or the Great Smoky Mountains. …
“That’s the story of this place — that, together, we can do great things that we cannot accomplish alone. That’s why today I’m designating Chicago’s Pullman District as America’s newest national monument. I want this younger generation, I want future generations to come learn about their past. Because I guarantee you there are a lot of young people right here in Chicago, just a few blocks away, living in this neighborhood who may not know that history.
“I want future generations to know that while the Pullman porters helped push forward our rights to vote, and to work, and to live as equals, their legacy goes beyond even that. These men and women without rank, without wealth or title, became the bedrock of a new middle class. These men and women gave their children and grandchildren opportunities they never had.
“Here in Chicago, one of those porter’s great-granddaughter had the chance to go to a great college and a great law school, and had the chance to work for the mayor, and had the chance to climb the ladder of success and serve as a leader in some of our cities’ most important institutions. And I know that because today she’s the First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama.
“So to the young people here today, that’s what I hope you take away from this place. It is right that we think of our national monuments as these amazing vistas, and mountains, and rivers. But part of what we’re preserving here is also history. It’s also understanding that places that look ordinary are nothing but extraordinary. The places you live are extraordinary, which means you can be extraordinary. You can make something happen, the same way these workers here at Pullman made something happen. (Applause.)
“Because for all the progress that we’ve made — and we have made a lot of progress — our moral revolution is unfinished. And it’s up to each of us to protect that promise of America, and expand that promise of opportunity for all people. That long march has never be easy. This place, historic Pullman, teaches us we have to keep standing firm and together. That’s the story of who we are. That’s the story of our past. And I have no doubt that we will pass the torch from generation to generation so that it is the story of our future as well.”
Pullman National Monument in Illinois:
This monument will preserve and highlight America’s first planned industrial town, and a site that tells important stories about the social dynamics of the industrial revolution, of American opportunity and discrimination, and of the rise of labor unions and the struggle for civil rights and economic opportunity for African Americans and other minorities. The 203-acre site includes factories and buildings associated with the Pullman Palace Car Company, which was founded in 1867 and employed thousands of workers to construct and provide service on railroad cars. While the Pullman Company employed a mostly white workforce to manufacture railroad passenger cars, it also recruited the first porters, waiters and maids from the population of former slaves to serve on its luxury cars. Though lower-paying, these service jobs held prestige in the African-American community and played a major role in the rise of the African-American middle class and, through an historic labor agreement, the development of the civil rights movement of the 20th Century. The historic labor movement organized by A. Philip Randolph in the 1930s to win rights for these porters, waiters and maids ultimately created the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first labor union led by African Americans to receive a charter in the American Federation.
The National Park Foundation announced that nearly $8 million dollars has already been raised to support the monument, which will be Chicago’s first National Park Service unit and will be managed by the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service (http://pullmanil.org/nps.html).
Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado:
This monument will protect a stunning section of Colorado’s upper Arkansas River Valley. Located in Chaffee County near the town of Salida, Colorado, the 21,586-acre monument features rugged granite cliffs, colorful rock outcroppings, and mountain vistas that are home to a diversity of plants and wildlife, including bighorn sheep and golden eagles. Members of Congress, local elected officials, conservation advocates, and community members have worked for more than a decade to protect the area, which hosts world-class recreational opportunities that attract visitors from around the globe for hiking, whitewater rafting, hunting and fishing. In addition to supporting this vibrant outdoor recreation economy, the designation will protect the critical watershed and honor existing water rights and uses, such as grazing and hunting. The monument will be cooperatively managed by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management and USDA’s National Forest Service.
Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii:
This monument permanently protects a site where Japanese American citizens, resident immigrants, and prisoners of war were held captive during World War II. Located on the island of Oahu, the monument will help tell the difficult story of the internment camp’s impact on the Japanese American community and the fragility of civil rights during times of conflict. Honouliuli Internment Camp, located in a steep canyon not far from Pearl Harbor, opened in March, 1943 and was the largest and longest-used confinement site for Japanese and European Americans and resident immigrants in Hawaii, eventually holding 400 civilian internees and 4,000 prisoners of war. The camp was largely forgotten until uncovered in 2002, and the President’s designation will ensure its stories are told for generations. The monument will be managed by the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service.
Every Kid in a Park
In the lead up to the 100th birthday of the National Park Service in 2016, the President’s Every Kid in a Park initiative is a call to action to get all children to visit and enjoy America’s unparalleled outdoors. \
“Today, more than 80 percent of American families live in urban areas, and many lack easy access to safe outdoor spaces. At the same time, kids are spending more time than ever in front of screens instead of outside. A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that young people now devote an average of more than seven hours a day to electronic media use, or about 53 hours a week – more than a full time job.
“America’s public lands and waters offer space to get outside and get active, and are living classrooms that provide opportunities to build critical skills through hands-on activities.”
To inspire the next generation to discover all that America’s public lands and waters have to offer, the Obama Administration will provide all 4th grade students and their families free admission to all National Parks and other federal lands and waters for a full year, starting with the 2015-2016 school year. The initiative will also:
Make it easy for schools and families to plan trips: The Administration will distribute information and resources to make it easy for teachers and families to identify nearby public lands and waters and to find programs that support youth outings.
Provide transportation support to schools with the most need: As an integral part of this effort, the National Park Foundation (NPF) – the congressionally chartered foundation of the National Park Service – is expanding and re-launching its Ticket to Ride program as Every Kid in a Park, which will award transportation grants for kids to visit parks, public lands and waters, focusing on schools that have the most need.
Provide educational materials: The initiative will build on a wide range of educational programs and tools that the federal land management agencies already use. For example, NPS has re-launched a website with over 1,000 materials developed for K-12 teachers, including science labs, lesson plans, and field trip guides. And a number of federal agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Education, and NPS participate in Hands on the Land, a national network of field classrooms and agency resources that connects students, teachers, families, and volunteers with public lands and waterways.
To further support this effort, the President’s 2016 Budget includes a total increased investment of $45 million for youth engagement programs throughout the Department of the Interior, with $20 million specifically provided to the National Park Service for youth activities, including bringing 1 million fourth-grade children from low-income areas to national parks. This increase will also fund dedicated youth coordinators to help enrich children and family learning experiences at parks and online.
‘Conservation, a Truly American Idea’
The President, standing near the site of the historic Pullman town in Chicago, said, “For a century, rangers, and interpreters, and volunteers and visitors have kept alive what the writer Wallace Stegner once called ‘the best idea we ever had’ — our belief that the country’s most special places should belong not just to the rich, not just to the powerful, but belong to everybody — not just now, but for all time.
“Conservation is a truly American idea. The naturalists and industrialists and politicians who dreamt up our system of public lands and waters did so in the hope that, by keeping these places, these special places in trust — places of incomparable beauty, places where our history was written — then future generations would value those places the same way as we did. It would teach us about ourselves, and keep us grounded and keep us connected to what it means to be American. And it’s one of our responsibilities, as Americans, to protect this inheritance and to strengthen it for the future.
“And that’s why I’ve used my authority to set aside more public lands and waters than any President in history. (Applause.) And that’s why, starting next month, we’re going to encourage every American to “Find Your Park,” because chances are, there’s one closer than you think.”
Antiquities Act Under Threat of ‘No New National Parks’ Legislation
The Antiquities Act was first exercised by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to designate Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming. Since then, 16 presidents have used this authority to protect unique natural and historic features in America, such as the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, and Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients.
With these new designations, President Obama will have used the Antiquities Act to establish or expand 16 national monuments. Altogether, he has protected more than 260 million acres of public lands and waters – more than any other President – as well as preserved sites that help tell the story of significant people or extraordinary events in American history, such as Cèsar E. Chàvez National Monument in California, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland, and Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio.
However, the Republican-led Congress has moved to undermine the President’s authority to designate national monuments.
“Since 1906, presidents of both parties have used this legislation to protect sites, objects, and landscapes of historic, cultural, or scientific interest on federally-owned or controlled property,” the National Trust for Historic Preservation stated. “Some of America’s most iconic places were first protected by presidential national monument designations, including the Statue of Liberty, Grand Canyon and Acadia. Recent designations such as Fort Monroe, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad, the César E. Chávez National Monument — and now Pullman — demonstrate just how critical the Antiquities Act is to protecting America’s diverse historic and cultural sites.
“Now, only two months into 114th Congress, seven bills have already been introduced that would weaken, restrict or add burdensome requirements to the president’s use of the Antiquities Act. These bills pose a serious threat to the future preservation of America’s most important and beloved places.”
Washington, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill that includes provisions that could mean the most significant National Park System expansion in decades. If passed by the U.S. Senate and signed into law, the legislation will carry with it the establishment of seven new National Park units, the expansion of nine national park sites, and the extension of 15 National Heritage Areas, effectively shaking loose a five-year stalemate on public lands measures in Congress.
National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), numerous local communities, local businesses, and scientists have spent years advocating for many of the new and expanded parks included in this legislation.
“If signed into law, this legislation will protect places taken right out of the pages of our history and science books,” said Clark Bunting, President and CEO of National Parks Conservation Association. “From the sites associated with the Manhattan Project to the legacy of Harriet Tubman in New York and Maryland to the North Fork Watershed in Montana and Ice Age fossils in Nevada, these are stories that deserve to be told in the name of strengthening our country’s best idea. And these are places that deserve to be preserved for all Americans to experience.”
Many of the proposed new and expanded national park sites would further diversify the National Park System, including the Tule Springs site which is less than 30 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip and would offer a significant opportunity for an urban community to visit a fossil-rich national park. Many will permanently protect places that played key roles in our nation’s history, including the historic Gettysburg train station where President Abraham Lincoln arrived to deliver his seminal Gettysburg Address. And many of these sites would provide visitors with a richer adventure, including the Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve where the watershed and marble caves will be protected.
This public lands package is monumental in terms of expanding our national park system, however NPCA remains mindful that it is not perfect.
“While this legislation includes two dozen bills that will enhance our national heritage and highlight our collective history, from innovation to science and nature, it also includes provisions that could harm our natural resources. It is those provisions that are of concern to us, both as park advocates and as conservationists. However, the gains we make for our parks, their communities and their visitors will have lasting effects for our nation,” said Theresa Pierno, Chief Operating Officer, National Parks Conservation Association.
National Parks Package of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015
New National Park Units
1. Blackstone (RI)
2. Coltsville (CT)
3. Harriet Tubman (NY)
4. Manhattan Project (WA, TN, NM)
5. Valles Caldera (NM)
6. Tule Springs (NV)
7. World War I Memorial in Pershing Park (DC)
1. Apostle Islands (WI)
2. First State (DE)
3. Gettysburg (PA)
4. Harriet Tubman (MD)
5. Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson Great Falls (NJ)
6. Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve (OR)
7. San Antonio Mission (TX )
8. Vicksburg (MS)
9. Lower East Side Tenement (NY)
Special Resource Studies
1. Lower Mississippi (LA)
2. Buffalo Soldiers
3. Rota, Commonwealth of Lower Mariana Islands
4. Prison Ship Martyrs (Brooklyn, NY)
5. Flushing Remonstrance (NY)
6. West Hunter Street Baptist Church (Atlanta, GA)
7. Mill Springs Battlefield (KY)
8. New Philadelphia (IL)
National Heritage Area Reauthorization
The authority to continue funding 15 National Heritage Areas that had a sunset will now be extended
through September 30, 2021.
1. Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (PA)
2. National Coal Heritage Area (WV)
3. Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area (PA)
4. Essex National Heritage Area (MA)
5. Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area (IA)
6. Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area (OH)
7. Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area (NY)
8. Motor Cities National Heritage Area Partnership (MI)
9. Lackawanna Heritage Valley & State Heritage Area (PA)
10. Wheeling National Heritage Area (WV)
11. Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area (AZ)
12. Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor (NY)
13. Schuykill River Valley National Heritage Area (PA)
14. Quinebaug & Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor (CT & MA)
15. John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor (MA & RI)
With the stroke of a pen, President Obama expanded the existing Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, one of the most pristine tropical marine environments in the world, to six times its current size, resulting in 370,000 square nautical miles (490,000 square miles) of protected area around these tropical islands and atolls in the south-central Pacific Ocean, making it the largest marine reserve in the world that is completely off limits to commercial resource extraction including commercial fishing.
Expanding the Monument, which was first designated by George W. Bush on January 6, 2009, will more fully protect the deep coral reefs, seamounts, and marine ecosystems unique to this part of the world, which are also among the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.
Commercial fishing and other resource extraction activities, such as deep sea mining, are banned in the Monument. But in recognition of the importance of encouraging and supporting access to federally managed areas, recreational and traditional fishing consistent with the conservation goals of the Monument will continue to be allowed in the expanded Monument.
“An ocean paradise teeming with rare marine life and birds surrounding atolls and reefs about 1,000 miles southwest of Hawaii, the newly-expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument further protects those ecosystems and their creatures—some of which are found nowhere else on earth,” the Wilderness Society wrote.
“Safeguarding these islands and their underwater ecosystems will help ensure the survival and recovery of several threatened and endangered species such as leatherback turtles, blue and humpback whales, whitetip sharks, and yellowfin tuna. The islands attract millions of migratory seabirds and the coral reefs in this area are full of colorful fish and anemones.
“The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument is like the Galapagos Islands in terms of the significance of this habitat for wildlife and its value for scientific research. The expansion of the monument garnered overwhelming support from scientists, businesses and conservation groups.”
The recently released National Climate Assessment confirms that climate change is causing sea levels and ocean temperatures to rise. Changing temperatures can harm coral reefs and force certain species to migrate. In addition, carbon pollution is being absorbed by the oceans, causing them to acidify, which can damage coastal shellfish beds and reefs, altering entire marine ecosystems. To date, the acidity of our ocean is changing 50 times faster than any known change in millions of years.
In response to this growing threat, the President announced in June his commitment to use his authority to protect some of our most precious marine landscape just like he has for our mountains, rivers, and forests. The Administration identified expanding the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument as an area of particular interest because science has shown that large marine protected areas can help rebuild biodiversity, support fish populations, and improve overall ecosystem resilience.
To meet the President’s commitment, the Administration examined how to expand protections near the Monument and considered the input of fishermen, scientists, conservation experts, elected officials, and other stakeholders, including through a town hall meeting and over 170,000 comments submitted electronically.
The expanded Monument will include over 130 newly protected sea mounts, which are hotspots of biodiversity that harbor uncounted numbers of new and unique marine species. The expansion will better protect the habitat of animals with large migration and foraging ranges that stretch throughout the area, including sea turtles, marine mammals, and manta rays. The Monument is also home to millions of seabirds that forage over hundreds of miles and bring food back to their rookeries on the islands and atolls. These birds serve as a conveyor belt of energy bringing nutrients caught at sea back into the near shore environment where they help sustain the ecosystems.
This proclamation builds on the Administration’s efforts to protect both our lands and our oceans. Early in his first term, President Obama launched the National Ocean Policy to harmonize the implementation of more than 100 laws that govern our oceans and create a coordinated, science-based approach to managing the many resources and uses of our coasts and oceans.
In June, President Obama launched a series of executive actions to increase protections for the ocean, including combating black market fishing, establishing a pathway to new marine sanctuaries, and understanding the impacts of ocean acidification. The President has also designated 11 other national monuments across the United States to permanently protect sites that are significant to our nation’s rich history and natural heritage.
The expanded monument will continue to be managed by the Departments of the Interior and Commerce through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration respectively. The Agencies will develop management plans pursuant to their respective authorities under the Antiquities Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery and Conservation Management Act, and other relevant authorities to ensure proper care and management of the Monument.
First exercised by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to designate Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, the authority of the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 presidents since 1906 to protect unique natural and historic features in America, such as the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, and Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients.