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Wishing the National Park Service a Happy 100th!

August 2016

A visitor relaxes on the overlook of both Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park
A visitor relaxes on the overlook of both Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park. Photo: NOAA

This week, we join the rest of the nation in wishing the National Park Service, America's best idea, a very happy 100th birthday!

What's little known about the National Park Service is that 88 of its 412 units are coastal, Great Lakes and ocean sites. The National Park System protects island parks like Acadia, Dry Tortugas and Virgin Islands, national seashores like Cape Cod, Padre Island and Gulf Islands, and historic sites like Kalaupapa, New Bedford Whaling and Sitka.

sun shines on a beach overlooking both Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Olympic National Park
The sun shines on a beautiful beach overlooking both Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Olympic National Park. Photo: NOAA

More than 30 of these sites are part of the national marine protected area system -- the same system that includes the National Marine Sanctuary System. In many places, national parks and monuments are near, adjacent to or overlap with national marine sanctuaries.

National parks and national marine sanctuaries have a long history of working together to preserve special places for the education and enjoyment of the American people. Just this year, national marine sanctuaries worked with their national park neighbors to host lectures and exhibits, carry out citizen science events, and support Every Kid in a Park efforts. Two Capitol Hill Ocean Week sessions, Our Blue Parks Legacy and The Power of Diversity to Strengthen the Ocean Movement, featured the people and stories of the National Park Service.

Some young visitors enjoy Get Into Your Sanctuary Day at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Some young visitors enjoy Get Into Your Sanctuary Day at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: NOAA

The sanctuary system is younger than the national park system. It was founded in 1972, just about a hundred years after the first national park, Yellowstone, was established. But both programs share the same passionate commitment to their communities, nation and planet. All of these places protect our natural and cultural heritage, preserve scenic land and seascapes, maintain areas for science and knowledge, and serve as destinations for the public to visit and enjoy and learn. These are places held in trust for future Americans. Here's how you can help.

Students take part in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary's ​​Every Kid in a Park activities​, overlooking​ ​Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary
Students take part in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary's ​​Every Kid in a Park activities​, overlooking​ ​Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, close to Point Reyes National Seashore. Photo: Jennifer Stock/NOAA