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Acadia National Park

100 Years of National Park Service

Happy 100th birthday, National Park Service!

Ah, national parks.

Hot, sticky “family fun” days spent wandering through vaguely marked trails while waging war with mosquitoes and poison ivy. Eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, smooshed in their little plastic baggies. Taking slurps of water that tasted like the plastic bottle, pre-BPA panic. Finally making it to that majestic mountain view and capturing the moment with a Kodak Max One-Time Use™ disposable camera.

Speaking of, when are disposable cameras going to see a resurgence as the next hipster-appropriated consumer product? I’m going to put my money on…the fall of 2019.

According to their site, the National Park Service was created in 1916 to preserve and protect “natural and cultural resources…for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.” Why it suddenly struck people in 1916 that this was a priority…was probably for a good reason. But I don’t know that reason. I could research it but I’m in the middle of moving into a new apartment this week so I’m telling you now that it’s not going to happen.

Bill Bryson comments a lot on the National Park Service in A Walk in the Woods. As I guess you would too if you spent hours every day walking in the woods with little else to think about except who was managing that bear problem you keep hearing about. He has some, perhaps not unjust, observations of how the NPS has frequently handled species protection and federal funding, even to this day.

BUT. On the other hand, without the National Park Service, is it possible that none of the beautiful preserved lands across our country might exist? Imagine thousands of acres of forest, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, canyons and glacial outcroppings, all across America, cut down, torn, drained and blasted to make way for another Kmart. I mean…it’s not even a Homegoods.

BTW did you know that today there are over 400 national parks and monuments? I learned that just now in the Centennial Junior Ranger Activity Book you can download for hours of nature fun.

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Look! They helpfully identified what a tree looks like. Just in case.

It’s just like Pokémon Go except ideally it’s recommended that you don’t capture and train for battle any wildlife you see.

Unfortunate note: here’s one moment that’s less of nature fun and more of awkward glossing over of one of the most terrible moments in American history:

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I mean, I guess it’s not a space where you can easily talk about forced exile to small children? But still. Sigh…

On a brighter note, REI is also celebrating the NPS with some pretty cool commemorative gear, of which 10% of the proceeds go back into the parks. Yay!

I reaaaaalllyyy want this NPS badge so I can proudly display it somewhere like a Girl Scout:

NPS Badge

Actually there are four patches total. I think you should have to earn them in some way, like, say, with sustainable activities like Tina’s Consensual Birdwatching.

Tina Thundergirl

“We could go on a 13-smile hike.”

What’s your favorite national park?

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