100 Years After Mathers' National Parks Summit
I recently came across an exciting article by Rachel Hartigan Shea for National Geographic which commemorates the 100th anniversary of a convening which set the stage for a massive expansion to the national park system.
In 1915 Stephen Mather, the first director of the NPS (and former soap baron) convened a group of national park advocates at UC Berkeley to discuss the state of the still nascent NPS. The group also included a number of wealthy people that could help buoy the organization which would soon need infrastructure to support an influx of visitors. Additionally, Mather introduced team members (oftentimes paying them out of his own pocket) who fervently publicized all the parks had to offer to vacationers. A major result of the summit was the notion that by bringing more visits to the parks, the NPS would develop advocates for the national treasures. Now 100 years after the historic convening, organizers are celebrating with another meeting at UC Berkeley with keynote speakers E.O. Wilson and Sally Jewell.
Personally, I'm a longtime enthusiast of the National Park System. I relish any opportunity to celebrate and explore the parks through camping and hiking trips. My doctoral research this summer will take me very close to Everglades National Park and I can't wait to see all that massively biodiverse area has to offer. Also, if you enjoyed this Nat Geo article, and want to learn more about the history of the NPS, I recommend the Ken Burns documentary The National Parks: Americas Best Ideas.