“This land is your land, this land is my land From California, to the New York Island. From the redwood forest, to the Gulf Stream waters. This land was made for you and me” Remember learning this popular folk song in elementary school? Well, It’s true! This land is YOUR land…and this land is MY land and America’s National Parks will celebrate our collective ownership and stewardship of this expanse of hills, mountains, and valleys that we call America.
All this week Monday, April 22nd through Friday, April 26th, the National Park Service will celebrate National Park Week by offering a variety of programs for “We, the People”. National Park Service spokesperson, Kathy Kupper explains, “there will be a diversity of programs due to the diversity of parks.” National Historic sites and National Parks in the North, South, East, and Western US will be offering “Fee Free” entrance to the Parks as well as, a host of cultural, historical, and environmental programs. Kupper explains, in the Pacific Northwest “Fort Vancouver (National Historic Site in Oregon) is doing a traditional Native American ceremony with music.” In the south, she adds, “There’s a lot of folk life, Cajun culture going on at Jean Lafitte (National Park) in New Orleans, Santa Monica Mountain (in California) is having a big science festival and the Great Smoky’s (in North Carolina and Tennessee) are going to do blacksmith demonstrations”.” Kupper explains that in addition to the scheduled events, typical Ranger programs such as hikes, walks and birdwatching will continue to be offered. Kupper notes, “Earth Day is during Park Week so a lot of parks are doing things for Earth Day. Some parks are offering volunteer programs where you can go in and remove exotics or plant flowers.”
For those families that work from 9 to 5 and the kids are in school all day, some parks are offering special programs. According to Kupper, “Several parks are hosting night-friendly programs like ‘Sunset Strolls’ or ‘Moonlight Walks’ ‘StarGazing’ and ‘NightSky’ programs.” She continues, “there are many places where we don’t see the stars at night anymore and some of these parks are magnificent! Just millions of stars!” she adds. “Some of the parks are already setting up telescopes and having people come and learn about the night sky.”
Not only does the National Park Service preserve natural lands and indigenous species in the Americas, but it also preserves national historic sites such as the African Burial Ground (NYC), the Harriet Tubman Monument (MD), and the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. Since the nation is currently in the midst of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, many battleground sites such as Gettysburg (PA), Appomattox (VA), and Antietam (MD) will offer artillery demonstrations, encampments, and living history reenactments during National Park Week.
If you’d like to explore your ‘own backyard’ for National Park Week, visit nationalparkservice.org or the National Park Foundation at nationalparks.org.