National Park Service
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Overview

The National Park Service was formed on August 25, 1916 under the Organic Act.  It is a bureau of the Department of Interior and its operation is overseen by the Department's Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.  The first national park: Yellowstone National Park was established on March 1, 1872 by the Congress and began a worldwide national park movement.  The mission of the NPS was first described in the Organic Act of 1916 as follows:
"...to promote and regulate the use of the...national parks...which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."  SOURCE: National Service Organic Act

To achieve this mission, NPS follows the guiding principles:
1) Excellent Service: Providing the best possible service to park visitors and partners.
2) Productive Partnerships: Collaborating with federal, state, tribal, and local governments, private organizations, and businesses to work toward common goals.
3) Citizen Involvement: Providing opportunities for citizens to participate in the decisions and actions of the National Park Service.
4) Heritage Education: Educating park visitors and the general public about their history and common heritage.
5) Outstanding Employees: Empowering a diverse workforce committed to excellence, integrity, and quality work.
6) Employee Development: Providing developmental opportunities and training so employees have the , "tools to do the job" safely and efficiently.
7) Wise Decisions: Integrating social, economic, environmental, and ethical considerations into the decision -making process.
8) Effective Management: Instilling a performance management philosophy that fosters creativity, focuses on results, and requires accountability at all levels.
8) Research and Technology: Incorporating research findings and new technologies to improve work practices, products, and services.
9) Shared Capabilities: Sharing technical information and expertise with public and private land managers.
SOURCE: The Mission of the National Park Service

Evaluation

If the NPS follows these guiding principles perfectly, it seems almost perfect in every aspects. But today, the NPS struggles with challenges in many aspects.  The major challenges NPS is facing are preserving resources and management for the preservation. NPS has become a major recreation visited place in recent years and the number of people visiting is on the increase.  Now, NPS comprises 378 areas covering more than 83.3 million acres in every state (except Delaware), the District of Colombia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.   In 1998 there were 286,739,115 visitors to these parks.  Along with the increase of people visiting National Parks, NPS are forced to change and improve its management style since it would be insufficient to save natural resources.   In these aspects, NPS can not be regarded as doing good job although they are trying to improve them.  

There are also some contradiction NPS is facing today.  In the Organic Act of 1916 NPS put importance on conserving the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life "above all else."  But today, recreation service has overwhelmed the prior purpose, resulting in excellence in visitors service; mass recreation facilities such as golf courses, ski lifts, motorboat marinas, and other extraneous developments which completely contradict the management goals.  NPS must reverse its policy.

There are also some doubt about the management method NPS is using.  They are conducting management such as insecticides in the control of forest insects.  There should be a research or testing before conducting these methods since ecologic impact can have unanticipated effects on the biotic community that might defeat the overall objectives.  In this sense, NPS is still insufficient on the management based on information.  

SOURCES: Natural Resource Challenge, Wildlife Management in the National Parks

The following pages would discuss about challenges and budget which is important for future NPS

NPS Challenges NPS Budget

 

 December 17, 1999e-mail: tyoshida@ucdavis.edu |