Mr. President, I rise today to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill creating the National Park Service to oversee the country’s parks and monuments. Since then, the National Park Service has served generations of visitors by providing a gateway to the wonders of our nation. As a result, our children and grandchildren have the opportunity to experience things that cannot be fully appreciated by pictures in a book or lessons in a classroom.
Now, this is something we should all celebrate, but it’s especially important to me because Wyoming is home to some of the best National Park Service areas in this country, including the very first National Park.
Yellowstone National Park was named our first National Park in 1872, well before the existence of the National Park Service. It was “set apart as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people” for good reason. Every elementary school student learns about Old Faithful, the geyser that erupts about 17 times a day at Yellowstone. But Yellowstone is also home to more than 60 different mammals, more than 300 different birds, more than 15 species of fish, and 10 species of reptiles and amphibians.
Of course Yellowstone isn’t Wyoming’s only National Park. My home state is also home to Grand Teton National Park, which was established in 1929. In addition to boasting one of the most recognizable mountain ranges in the world, this park is home to the famous Snake River.
Mr. President, I also mentioned that the National Park Service helps to oversee National Monuments. That includes the country’s first National Monument, which is also in Wyoming. Devils Tower was declared the first National Monument in 1906 and is one of the most unique formations in the world. It’s a great place for hiking, climbing, or just taking in the views.
Wyoming is also home to Fossil Butte National Monument, which contains one of the largest deposits of freshwater fish fossils in the world. At this monument, you can see fossils of everything from perch to stingrays!
I would be remiss if I did not mention Fort Laramie National Historic Site in Wyoming. Fort Laramie was established as a fur trading fort in 1834 and became an Army post in 1849. The Fort was the site of many important treaty negotiations and became a part of the National Park System in 1938.
My home state also has the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. There are about 28 miles of trails, boating opportunities, and historic ranches at this National Park area, which was established in 1966.
These are just a few of the 412 areas managed by the National Park System, but I think they are some of the best. Wyoming is proud of its National Park areas, and we are proud to celebrate the National Park Service’s centennial.
I want close by acknowledging the hard work of the men and women who have maintained these special places of discovery and learning in Wyoming and across our nation. Thank you to the over 20,000 men and women of the National Park Service who go to work each day as caretakers, craftsmen and teachers to make America’s National Parks second-to-none.
Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.