The National Park Service (often referred to as “America’s Best Idea”) is turning 100 on August 25th! We at EcoEnclose couldn’t be more thrilled.

With spots like Rocky Mountain National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park in our backyard, we are particularly grateful for the foresight of leaders like John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson for preserving like these for us and for generations ahead. Their efforts have led to the oversight and celebration of over 84 million acres of land, where there is a focus on protecting trees, water, animals and natural landscapes.

EcoEnclose is honored to be supporting Type Hike as part of this momentous time. Type Hike is a typographic exploration of America’s national parks! Organized by David Rygiol and James Louis Walker (two designers/typographers), the effort is bringing together 59 incredible, diverse designers nationwide.

Each designer has selected one national park they will be designing a graphic for. These graphics will be revealed on August 25th, 2016 and will be available for sale – as postcards and prints (and maybe more!) – after that (which will be shipped in EcoEnclose packaging – how fun?!)

100% of the profits from the store will be donated to the centennial campaign.

This effort is so close to our hearts – for our love for nature and protecting all that the parks have to offer, for our commitment to creatives, and our passion for supporting entrepreneurs like David and James. We are counting down the days to the big reveal of what are sure to be some incredible designs.

Stay tuned for updates!

For now…read on to get ready for the big centennial!

Are you a bit of a history geek (in addition to being an ecogeek)?

If so, here is some quick background on how the National Park Service got started…don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz (but this may be some good fodder for dinner party conversation this month!)

The federal government’s first effort to protect land was through an act of Congress in 1832 that preserved Arkansas’ Hot Springs Reservation for future recreation. This was well before the creation of the National Park Service (though the hot springs did later become a national park).

Then, in the mid nineteenth century, as urban centers were growing, leaders like Sierra Club founder John Muir, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau began promoting the importance of nature as spiritual refuge and antidote to bustling urban life.

Yosemite became the next national treasure to receive federal government protection – through the Yosemite Land Grant of 1864, when President Abraham Lincoln and Congress set aside parts of the park (during the Civil War no less!). Yellowstone National Park then became the nation’s first official, designated national park on March 1, 1872. This was motivated both by a territorial debate between Montana and Wyoming, as well as photos and paintings from Ferdinand Hayden’s 1871 expedition to Yellowstone that inspired government officials to protect the spectacular area. After Yellowstone was designated a national park, many more followed suit – Mackinac National Park in 1875, Casa Grande Ruin Reservation in Arizona in 1889, Sequoia National Park in California in 1890 and Yosemite National Park in 1890 to name a few.

In 1906, the Antiquities Act made it significantly easier for presidents such as Teddy Roosevelt (a huge environmentalist and ally to John Muir). During his administration (1901-1909), Roosevelt added five national parks, 18 national monuments, four game refugees, 51 bird sanctuaries, and over one million acres of national forest to the list of federally protected places.

Despite this incredible progress, it became clear that national park designation was not enough to protect these national treasures. John Muir led a campaign for the first decade of the 20th century to prevent the Hetch Hetchy Valley from being filled by a reservoir. The efforts were unsuccessful, and the developed reservoir is actually still serving San Francisco today.

John Muir, The American Civic Association, the National Geographic Society and Chicago businessman Stephen Mather are just a few of the leaders who banded together to challenge the disparate management of the various parks by different agencies, and advocated strongly for a single entity to oversee all of them.

This culminated in President Woodrow Wilson signing the Organic Act on August 25, 1916, creating the National Park Service, which became responsible for protecting the existing 14 national parks, 21 monuments, two reservations and those yet to be established. John Muir, often described as the father of the National Park Service, never got the chance to celebrate his victory as he died in 1914 at age 76.

 Interested in visiting a national park?

Chances are, you already have visited a national park – or at least a Park Service site (which includes national heritage areas, battlefields or military parks, national monuments and some urban parks). There are now 59 national parks (!!) and over 400 designated sites that are overseen by the Park Service, with one in every state – including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The total area under protection, 84.4 million acres, is almost three times the size of Pennsylvania. Last year, these sites registered 307 million visitors (almost 95% of the country’s entire population).

Find a site and plan a visit before the centennial is up, using the National Park Service’s nifty park finder: https://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm

 And who doesn’t want TEN fun – if not a bit bizarre – facts about the National Park Service?

    1. Death Valley National Park has the lowest elevation in the country, at 282 feet below sea level. This spot is about 75 miles from Mount Whitney which has the highest point in the continental US at 14,505 feet.
    2. Wrangell-St. Elias (in Alaska) is the largest park in the country. It is six times the size of Yellowstone! The park contains three climate zones (including wetlands, volcanos and glaciers) and is the meeting point of four major mountain ranges.
    3. The National Park Service used to actually encourage park visitors to watch bears eating from dumpsters (this became a nuisance and public safety hazard!). The most disturbing story about this I’ve read was that during the construction of Going-to-the-Sun road in Glacier National Park, deceased horses were thrown off the cliff for grizzlies down below.
    4. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most popular national park – drawing 10 million visitors annually. This is followed by Grand Canyon (with 5.5 million visitors) and then Rocky Mountain National Park. Yosemite and Yellowstone come in for a close fourth and fifth.
    5. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the US, and seventh deepest in the world. The lake took 250 years of rain and snow accumulation to reach its current water level.
    6. In 1937, a giant sequoia tree fell in Sequoia National Park in California and blocked a road. Instead of moving it, the National Park Service created a tunnel through the 275-foot by 21-foot tree.
    7. The national parks provide habitat to more than 400 endangered or threatened plant and animal species.
    8. Only one state in the country is not lucky enough to currently have a national park or national monument – Delaware (which is actually our country’s first state!).
    9. Shenandoah National Park ranger Roy Sullivan reports being hit by lightning seven times!
    10. The NPS budget for was $2.7 billion (in 2015). Annual visitor spending in communities within 60 miles of National Park Service sites, supporting more than 240,000 jobs and contributing $27 billion to the U.S. economy.
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