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National Park Service Frequently Asked Questions


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What government agency oversees the National Park Service?

The National Park Service is a bureau of the Department of the Interior. Directly overseeing its operation is the Department’s Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

How Old is the System?

The National Park Service was created by an Act signed by President Woodrow Wilson on August 25, l9l6. Yellowstone National Park was established by an Act signed by President Ulysses S. Grant on March l, l872, as the Nation’s first national park.

How many areas are there in the National Park system?

The National Park System comprises 388 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state (except Delaware), the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. These areas include national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and the White House. Learn More about National Park Designations.

How many employees are in the National Park Service?
  • Permanent, Temporary, and Seasonal – Approximately 20,000 diverse professionals
  • Volunteers in Parks – 125,000

How many people visit the National Parks?

Total recreation visitors to the National Parks in 1999: 287,130,879

What is the National Park Service Budget?
  • FY 2004 Enacted – $2.259 billion
  • FY 2005 Request – $2.361 billion

What are concessions?

There are more than 630 NPS concessionaires (in 128 different park units) which vary in size from small, family-owned businesses to national/international corporations. Concessionaires provide park visitors with lodging, transportation, food services, shops, and other services.

What is the largest/smallest National Park?
  • Largest – Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, AK – l3.2 million
  • Smallest – Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, PA – 0.02

What is the origin of the National Park Service Arrowhead?

The arrowhead was authorized as the official National Park Service emblem by the Secretary of the Interior on July 20, 1951. The Sequoia tree and bison represent vegetation and wildlife, the mountains and water represent scenic and recreational values, and the arrowhead represents historical and archeological values. It was registered Feb. 9, 1965, by the U.S. Patent Office as the official emblem of the NPS.


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