National Park Service (NPS)

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A organizational summary by the ENVS 560/L Watershed Systems class at CSUMB.


The National Park Service is a federal agency in the United States that manages all national parks, most national monuments, and other historical and conservation areas with various designations.

Legal Status

The NPS was created by the United States Congress on August 25, 1916, through the National Park Service Organic Act, which was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson. [1] The NPS is a bureau of the United States Department of the Interior, directly overseeing its operation is the department's Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks [2]

The first national park in the United States was Yellowstone National Park, established by an act signed by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. [3]. In 1872, the federal government assumed direct control of these parks, they were originally divided up under the guidance of the Department of the Interior (DoI). Conservationist Stephen Mather ran a publicity campaign for the DoI, which resulted in the creation of the NPS on August 25, 1916.


In California, the NPS controls 6,240,000 acres of land, the first NPS protected area being Yosemite National Park.

Organizational Structure

The NPS is a bureau of the Secretary of the Interior. The NPS Director is appointed by the President and is confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Under the director, is the Chief of Staff, followed by three deputy directors.

The Administration of the NPS is divided up into 12 regions [4].

As of 2021, the NPS has approximately 20,000 employees and has more than 279,000 volunteers. [5]

California Central Coast

The NPS manages a wide variety of lands in the California Central Coast Region in four categories National Parks, National Recreation Areas, National Monuments, and National Heritage Areas. They also have significant influence over National Historic Areas and federal lands given to the state via the Federal Lands to Parks Program.

National Parks

Physical properties managed by NPS within the National Park System. They are designated by Congress for their natural beauty, diverse ecosystems, unique geological features, and recreational possibilities.

Channel Islands National Park

Pinnacles National Park

Sequoia National Park

Kings Canyon National Park

National Recreation Areas

Established by an act of Congress to preserve recreational opportunities in places with significant natural and scenic resources.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

National Monument

Physical properties managed by NPS within the National Park System. In contrast with the national park, national monuments are designated by Congress for their historical, cultural, or archaeological significance.

César E. Chávez National Monument

National Register of Historic Places

Established in 1966, through the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act, it is the official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects considered worthy of preservation for their historical significance. A listed property may qualify for tax incentives derived from the total value of expenses incurred in preserving the property.

Carmel Mission

Mission San Miguel Arcangel

La Purísima Mission

Los Alamos Ranch House

Rancho Camulos

Hearst San Simeon Estate

Gonzalez House

Well No. 4, Pico Canyon Oil Field

Rogers Dry Lake

San Juan Bautista Historic District

Monterey Old Town Historic District

Larkin House

Old Customhouse

Royal Presidio Chapel

Juan de Anza House

Jose Castro House

The Forty Acres

Santa Barbara Mission

Mission Santa Inés

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

Carrizo Plain Archeological District

Steedman Estate

Rancho Camulos

National Heritage Areas (NHA)

Designations by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. NHA entities collaborate with communities to determine how to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs. Currently, there are no NHAs established within Central California. Within California, there is the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area.

Federal Lands to Parks Program

This program helps communities acquire, reuse, and protect surplus federal properties for local parks and recreation. States, counties, and communities may obtain federal land and buildings no longer needed by the federal government at no cost, with the condition they are protected for public parks and recreation. Since its inception in 1949, the program transferred 184,000 acres of land to state and local governments nationwide.





This page may contain student work completed as part of assigned coursework. It may not be accurate. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion or policy of CSUMB, its staff, or students.