Sunday, February 28, 2016

Celebrating 100 Years Of The National Parks System

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Our family loves the National Parks system. Currently we are working through visiting all of the National Parks in our home state of Georgia, we have done 6 of the 15 so far. Did you know that this year the National Parks System is celebrating their 100 year anniversary in 2016? National Parks are not only beautiful and fun to visit they are super educational too. You can check out all the educational activities they offer in a previous post I wrote here.

Did you know right now every 4th grader can get a National Parks pass FREE through Every Kid In A Park?

So far this year we have celebrated the 100 year anniversary by completing the Junior Ranger program at the Martin Luther King Historic Site, watching the National Park Adventure IMAX at Fernbank Museum and by reading several amazing National Parks courtesy of National Geographic.

More about National Parks Adventure IMAX:
This amazing 40 minute documentary will definitely inspire you to go exploring. During the film you soar over red rock canyons, up craggy mountain peaks that touch the clouds and into other-worldly realms found within America’s most legendary outdoor playgrounds. The film is narrated by Robert Redford and follows world-famous climber Conrad Anker, adventure photographer Max Lowe, and artist Rachel Pohl as they hike, climb, and explore the wild places that belong to us all.

We watched the IMAX with about 40 of our homeschool friends and I think it is safe to say that both the moms and kids thoroughly enjoyed it. You could hear giggles, wows, gasps, ohs and ahs throughout the theater. After the movie I asked the kids what their favorite parts were. One said the prairie dogs, one said the bison, one said the ice/waterfall climbing and another said the guy riding bike on the rocks. As you can see it inspired everyone. One family actually hopped on a plane a few days later to head to the everglades (they were the winners of the book giveaway I had too for a copy of National Parks Guide - USA)

National Parks Adventure has also put together some great resources for educators and parents.

After the movie each child made an arrowhead necklace. Amazon had a great deal on agate arrowhead's. This craft was super simple too. Just choose some string and beads and

More about National Parks books from National Geographic:
  • Junior Ranger Activity Book - Calling all explorers and nature-lovers! From Acadia to Zion, discover all 59 of the United States' amazing National Parks in this jam-packed book of games, trivia, jokes, fun facts, and so much more, all inspired by the National Parks outdoor-based Junior Ranger Program. This book is guaranteed to keep the kids busy before, during and after your adventures! Check out the most amazing park habitats, plus awesome sights and animals you might see, from birds to bears. Fun facts are jam-packed onto every page, so kids learn something amazing about each cool park.
  • Buddy Bison's Yellow Stone - This adorable 32 pg paper back story book is the perfect way to learn about Yellow Stone. Join Buddy Bison and his two new friends as they explore the majestic Yellowstone National Park. Breathtaking photographs of Yellowstone serve as the backdrop for the wacky adventures of a curious pair of twins, Elena and Christopher, who are spending the summer with their aunt Rosa, a park ranger. This charming tale is sprinkled with helpful tidbits about the park, weird-but-true facts about the animals, and more fun facts kids adore. A comprehensive afterword offers a short history of the park and ways kids can get involved in parks preservation. 
  • National Parks Guide USA Centennial Edition - Happy 100th Birthday, National Parks! Join the 100 year celebration by reading all about these greatest of American treasures -- from Acadia to Zion -- in preparation for a parks visit sometime soon. This book is AMAZING. It is filled with color photos, information on animals, fascinating lists, fun facts, maps, cool things to do, conservation tips, and much more. It is the perfect travel guide for children as they travel to these amazing places.

Here are 25 FUN National Parks facts to hopefully spark your interest to explore:

  1. In GA there are 15 National Park sites. However we do not actually have an official National Park, but there have been talks to add Ocmulgee as Georgia’s actual 1st National Park. GA currently has Andersonville Historic Site, Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, Augusta Canal National Heritage Area, Chattahoochee National Recreation Area, Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, Cumberland Island National Seashore, Fort Frederica National Monument, Fort Pulaski National Monument, Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Area, Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, Kennesaw National Battlefield Park, Martin Luther King Historic Site, Ocmulgee National Monument, Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.
  2. So what do I mean by National Park? Well the National Parks system breaks up the more than 400 nationwide protected properties into several categories: National Parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historical sites lakeshores seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails and the White House. Notice none of the national park sites in GA are actually parks yet. Sometimes national parks and national monuments are confused. National parks are chosen for their natural beauty, unique geological features, and unusual ecosystems.  Landmarks are chosen based on their historical importance to ALL Americans.
  3. The Native Americans believed that the greatest natural wonders belonged to no one and that they belonged to all. And it is that belief that the national parks were founded on. On the Roosevelt arch at Yellowstones north entrance is a quote from the act that created the park “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people”
  4. There are 51 million acres of National Parks. 
  5. President Theodore Roosevelt is credited with championing the establishment of the parks. But it was Ulysses S Grant that actually established the world’s first national park which was Yellowstone. It was created in 1872 and its caretakers were the the cavalry.
  6. However it was conservationist John Muir, who recognized the value of America’s wild places and worked towards finding a way to protect them. Muir explored many “wild” places, took people on guided hikes of these uncharted areas and wrote many articles on conservation. In 1890, there was only one national park - Yellowstone. Muir, however, wanted the area of the Yosemite region that was currently a state park to become a national one. Because of his many impassioned articles that were being published, much of the public was persuaded and wrote letters to congress in support of Muir's beliefs, and other outside groups also lobbied congress for the establishment of a national park. In March of 1903 Muir and Roosevelt met and went camping high above Yosemite Valley. Muir took full advantage of the opportunity, calling for Roosevelt's help to save the trees and preserve the natural beauty of the region. Roosevelt was very impressed with Muir, and the experience re-enforced his conservationist stance. Over the rest of Roosevelt's administration, he set aside 148,000,000 acres of forest reserves and the number of national parks doubled.
  7. In 1916, the National Parks Service was created to regulate the national parks. The National Park Service which overseas the National Park System is part of the US department of interior. The U.S. Department of the Interior is a Cabinet-level agency that manages America's vast natural and cultural resources. 
  8. The arrowhead is the symbol of the national park service. It is a reminder of the culture and history the national parks protect. Each image on the arrowhead represents something protected by the national parks. So what do you think the arrowhead itself represents? History and culture of our nation. What about the sequoia tree? The plants protected. What about the mountain? The scenery and land protected. What about the lake? The recreational values protected. And what about the bison? The wildlife protected.
  9. Buddy Bison is the beloved mascot for the National Park Trust.
  10. Wind Cave National Park is the first cave to be named a national park in the world. In addition to its length (currently sixth longest in the world), Wind Cave is known for its calcite formations known as “boxwork.” About 95% of the world’s boxwork is found in Wind Cave.
  11. The smallest national park is Hot Springs National Park.
  12. For a very long time poor Delaware, the country’s 1st state, was the only state not lucky enough to have either a National Park or National Monument. But in 2013 it finally got one! 
  13. Death Valley National Park, which has the lowest elevation in the U.S. at 282 feet below sea level. The highest point in North America is Mt. McKinley in Denali National Park, which stands at 20,320 feet tall.
  14. The Grand Canyon is both a record of history and source of mystery. The Colorado River running through the canyon cuts through metamorphic rock called schist, which is about 1.75 billion years old. However the beginnings of the canyon are much debated by scientists. Did the Colorado River carve the whole canyon or was there already an ancient gorge waiting for the new river millions of years ago?
  15. Crater Lake, the U.S.’ deepest lake and seventh deepest in the world, took 250 years of rain and snow accumulation to reach its current water level.
  16. The Appalachian Trail is a 2,185 mile long public footpath that traverses the scenic, wooded, pastoral, wild, and culturally resonant lands of the Appalachian Mountains.
  17. Mammoth Cave National Park is the longest cave system known to the world, with more than 400 mapped miles of caves.
  18. The Yellowstone Caldera, in Yellowstone National Park, is a super volcano that is responsible for three of the world’s six biggest volcano eruptions. It is on pace to blow about 100,000 years from now. More than 3 million people visit Yellowstone each year.
  19. National park visitors generate 100 million lbs of trash each year.
  20. The national parks contain at least 247 species of threatened or endangered plants and animals, more than 75,000 archaeological sites and 18,000 miles of trails.
  21. The largest living things in the world are in National Parks: Sequoia trees and Alaskan brown bears (the world’s largest living carnivores).
  22. Over 250 million people visit national parks each year.
  23. Although the distribution of National Parks is fairly spread out through the United States, the most concentrated area lies within the states of Colorado, Utah, and Cal­i­for­nia. 
  24. In February 2016 three new national monuments in the California desert: Mojave Trails National Monument, Sand to Snow National Monument, and Castle Mountains National Monument.
  25. Today there are more than 6,000 national parks in nearly 100 countries that support wildlife conservation and ecotourism.

Media to watch:
And if all that wasn't enough to get you running out the door to your nearest National Park check out these media resources too.
  • Ken Burn’s “The National Parks – America’s Best Idea” - this documentary  provides an in-depth look into the creation and meaning behind our National Parks. It explores the amazing views, the political history, and the intricate story that is behind all of our Nation’s favorite spots; this documentary will give you the wanderlust needed to pack up the tent.
  • Rock the Parkthis show taps into America's love affair with our national parks. Our hosts, Jack Steward and Colton Smith, have made it their life's mission to explore every national park in this country. In the process, they come face to face with nature and push their physical limits as they go off the beaten path to discover some of the most awe-inspiring places on earth. The series is designed to inspire other Americans to seek adventure in the national parks.
  • YouTube National Parks Channel

Let us know where you are headed first for your National Parks Adventure!

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