HOT TOPIC: National Parks
Volume 1, Issue 8 - October 24, 2004

"This time of year my family and I make a trek to nearby national parks to take in the beauty of the Fall foliage. For many years this was done at Skyline Drive , atop the Blue Ridge Mountains in western-most Virginia . Now that I've relocated back home, we have been exploring the national parks and forests of New Hampshire and Maine . Of all the trips we have taken as a family, to Los Angeles, San Antonio, Orlando, New York; the trip my children always look forward to and remember most vividly are our trips to our national parks.

The Yellowstone area was almost the last unexplored region within the United States when Ferdinand Vandiveer Hayden led his expedition there in 1871. Westward exploration had passed it by, even with the discovery of gold in nearby Montana . Two more expeditions by the Folsom-Cook group in 1869 and the Washburn-Langford-Doane group in 1870 made it clear that this was a region of national beauty which had to be protected. On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed a bill establishing the Yellowstone region as the United States ' first national park. This set a precedent for federal stewardship of our lands and waters that would grow over time.

Theodore Roosevelt brought federal conservation efforts to fruition. As a young man, he had headed west and learned how to grow and manage his own ranch in Montana . Historians credit this experience with leaving a lasting imprint on the character of this most unique of characters to serve as President. Roosevelt would form the National Forest Service in 1906 to help regulate the growth and development of our forests and parks, preserving their beauty for future generations to enjoy.

Today the National Park Service is a strong thread in our national fabric. Americans from all walks of life as well as visitors from around the world come to experience and appreciate these pristine jewels of nature. And with the advent of the World Wide Web, teachers and students can now enjoy them within the confines of their classroom, both as scientific and social study. The links I recommend to you this week offer a rich collection of resources on our national parks and parks from around the world. Imagine the connections across your curriculum! Enjoy! ....."


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