National Parks and Forests 1872–1986

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Map Code: Ax01357

The American National Park Service was established by President Woodrow Wilson (1916) to manage the network of parks that had begun to be reserved. Yosemite was placed under the protection of the state of California by Abraham Lincoln (1864), but the first genuinely National Park come into being when Yellowstone was declared a ‘pleasuring ground… for public enjoyment’ (1872). The Forest Reserve Act (1891) coupled with the Organic Act (1897) set out the criteria governing woodland protection, with a National Forest Service following in 1905 tasked with implementation and maintenance. The Antiquities Act (1906) extended the concept of preservation to sites of historical and archaeological interest. There has always been a conflict between commercial interests’ urge to exploit, and the public’s desire to access, wilderness areas with the needs of conservation. The National Parkways programme (1933) was one attempt to resolve this conflict by affording automobile access while minimizing intrusion.

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