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Know the West

What is the National Park Service?


Founded in 1916 as part of the Interior Department, the National Park Service oversees 417 units on over 84 million acres. That includes national parks as well as national monuments, historic landmarks, heritage areas, wild and scenic rivers and 44 million acres of designated wilderness. Its budget in 2016 was $3 billion, but it needs more than that to handle its over 330 million annual visitors; the agency currently has a maintenance backlog of $12 billion. Overall, the National Park Service employs 22,000 permanent and seasonal workers, as well as 340,000 volunteers.