Supporters of the National Park Service and its parks and historic sites in Texas are gearing up for 2016, the 100th anniversary of the creation of the National Park Service.
Representatives of the Friends of Big Bend National Park and the Texas office of the National Parks Conservation Association visited the offices of Texas Highways today to talk about their plans for the centennial anniversary.
“We want to focus on the fact that there are great resources in Texas and you don’t have to load the station wagon and drive to Grand Canyon,” said Courtney Lyons-Garcia, executive director of Friends of Big Bend National Park.
Congress created the National Park Service with the passage of the Organic Act of 1916. In Texas, 13 sites have since become national parks, ranging from Big Bend National Park in West Texas to the Palo Alto Battlefield in Brownsville, the San Antonio Missions, and the Big Thicket in East Texas. There are also proposals to place two more Texas sites under the National Park Service: the Waco Mammoth Site and the Lone Star Coastal National Recreation Area (in the Galveston Bay area).
“We would love to see visitorship jump in 2016,” Lyons-Garcia said. “These are places the country has set aside and said, ‘These are important to our heritage.’”
The San Antonio Missions are the most popular National Park Service unit in Texas, with about 1.2 million visitors annually. Because of its remote location, Big Bend National Park welcomes a relatively low number of 400,000 visitors per year, Lyons-Garcia said.
Stay tuned for more about the National Park Service’s centennial in 2016 as park supporters prepare roll out a campaign to drum up interest in the centennial.