National Park Service - National Park System

National Park System

See also: List of the United States National Park System official units and List of areas in the United States National Park System Further information: African-American Heritage Sites (U.S. National Park Service), Hispanic Heritage Site, Native American Heritage Sites (U.S. National Park Service), and Women's History Sites (U.S. National Park Service)

National Park System is a term that describes the collection of all units managed by the National Park Service. The title or designation of a unit need not include the term park; indeed, most do not. The system encompasses approximately 84.4 million acres (338,000 km²), of which more than 4.3 million acres (17,000 km²) remain in private ownership. The largest unit is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. At 13,200,000 acres (53,000 km²), it is over 16 percent of the entire system. The smallest unit in the system is Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, Pennsylvania, at 0.02 acre (80 m²).

The National Park System (NPS) includes all properties managed by the National Park Service (also, confusingly, "NPS"). The System as a whole is considered to be a national treasure of the United States, and some of the more famous national parks and monuments are sometimes referred to metaphorically as "crown jewels".

In addition to administering its units and other properties, the National Park Service also provides technical and financial assistance to several "affiliated areas" authorized by Congress. The largest affiliated area is New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve at 1,164,025 acres (4711 km²). The smallest is Benjamin Franklin National Memorial at less than 0.01 acres (40 m2).

Although all units of the National Park System in the United States are the responsibility of a single agency, they are all managed under individual pieces of authorizing legislation or, in the case of national monuments created under the Antiquities Act, presidential proclamation. For example, because of provisons within their enabling legislation, Congaree National Park is almost entirely wilderness area, yet Yosemite allows unique developments such as the Badger Pass Ski Area and the O'Shaughnessy Dam within its boundaries. Death Valley National Park has an active mine legislated within its boundaries. Such irregularities would not be found in other parks unless specifically provided for by the legislation that created them.

Many parks charge an entrance fee ranging from US$3 to $25 per week. Visitors can buy a federal interagency annual pass, known as the "America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass," allowing unlimited entry to federal fee areas (USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation) for $80 per year. This pass applies to entry fees only. Other applicable fees, such as camping, and backcountry access, still apply. U.S. citizens who are 62+ years old may purchase a version with the same privileges for $10, and citizens with permanent disabilities may receive a free version.

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Famous quotes containing the words national park, national, park and/or system:

    It is not unkind to say, from the standpoint of scenery alone, that if many, and indeed most, of our American national parks were to be set down on the continent of Europe thousands of Americans would journey all the way across the ocean in order to see their beauties.
    Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945)

    The national anthem belongs to the eighteenth century. In it you find us ordering God about to do our political dirty work.
    George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)

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    We sat in the car park till twenty to one
    And now I’m engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.
    Sir John Betjeman (1906–1984)

    I need not say what match I would touch, what system endeavor to blow up; but as I love my life, I would side with the light, and let the dark earth roll from under me, calling my mother and my brother to follow.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)