Founded in 1916 with a mission to preserve and protect parks across the country for future generations, the Park Service now cares for 412 protected areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
To celebrate, we wanted to share just a few of those protected areas. These islands, seashores, and sanctuaries promote the overall health of our waterways and teach visitors about the importance of coastal conservation.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore – North Carolina
Comprised of beaches, sand dunes, marshes and woodlands, Cape Hatteras National Seashore sits on the coast of North Carolina. The seashore protects three barrier islands - Bodie Island, Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island.
As the nation’s first national seashore, it was founded in 1937 to preserve significant sections of these unspoiled barrier islands on North Carolina’s coast. Barrier islands are essential to coastal health as they are dynamic landforms that constantly move and reshape in response to storms, currents and sea level changes.
Acadia – Bar Harbor – Maine
Acadia National Park preserves coastal areas, forests, lakes and mountains covering more than 47,000 acres. Preservation began in 1901 when George B. Dorr, a conservation advocate, raised concerns about the development of the Bar Harbor area. Founding the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations, he initially preserved 6,000 acres of land which was then designated as Acadia National Park in 1929.
Assateague Island National Seashore – Maryland
Assateague Island National Seashore’s 48,000 acres hosts beaches, salt marshes, maritime forests and coastal bays. There were multiple attempts to develop portions of the island, but in 1965 Congressional efforts were successful and Assateague was named a national seashore.
A dynamic ecosystem, the barrier island is constantly affected by elemental forces. The ever changing landscape can be shaped by powerful storms, but also allows for the growth of a unique community of plants and animals.
Canaveral National Seashore – Florida
Canaveral National Seashore has provided sanctuary to both people and wildlife for centuries. The 25 miles of seashore, containing beaches, dunes and Mosquito Lagoon, is the longest expanse of undeveloped land on the east coast of Florida.
After decades of local efforts, Canaveral was designated as a national seashore in 1975. The shore is home to a variety of plants and birds. As a barrier island, the shore is essential for the protection of other coastal regions.
Celebrate the centennial of the National Park with a visit to a park near you! To find your park, click here.