Wednesday, April 25, 2012

National Park Week—our ‘best idea’

To learn more about National Park Week, visit

U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson represents Idaho 2nd Congressional District, which includes Blaine County.


Our national parks have been called our nation's crown jewels, a title I believe is well-deserved. We have a rich collection of parks across this nation, from Gettysburg Battlefield to the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone National Park, that capture the beauty, diversity, and history of our country. For 275 million Americans each year, our national parks provide the opportunity to get outdoors and learn about the places and people of our great country.

This week, April 21-29, is National Park Week, and we have the opportunity to celebrate our national parks—dubbed "America's Best Idea"—with free admission to all 397 national parks. As our economy struggles to recover and gas prices have made it more cost prohibitive to travel overseas, opportunities like this give us a greater appreciation for what we have here at home. A new generation of Americans can discover the history, culture, and natural world that make up this great country, as those who grew up visiting and recreating in our national parks are now taking their own families there to make new memories together.

I am a lifelong supporter of our national parks. As the chairman of the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees funding for the National Park Service, I recognize that there are a number of challenges facing our parks, not the least of which is that we have a tendency to love our parks to death. As we approach the centennial celebration of the National Park Service in 2016, we must set careful priorities and do more with limited resources to restore and maintain our beautiful parks so that future generations can enjoy them. Doing so will require the support and partnership of the Americans who visit them to experience our country and create lasting memories for their families.

Idaho has a number of national park sites, including Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, City of Rocks, and the Minidoka National Historic Site, not to mention the gateway to Yellowstone, our nation's first national park. Whether you pick a site close to home or travel to Mount Rushmore, Yosemite, or the National Mall in Washington, D.C., I encourage you to take advantage of National Park Week to experience the wonder and diversity of our great land. It will undoubtedly be an experience that your family will cherish for years to come.

To learn more about National Park Week, visit

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