On April 5, 1916, the U.S. Congress heard testimony supporting the creation of a National Park Service. Conservationists, civic leaders, and government officials debated the management of parks and recreational areas. The positive testimonies resulted in the establishment of the National Parks Service Act as well as the right to create a National Parks Service, which was made official on August 25. Stephen T. Mather was named the first director.
 
Today, the National Parks Service covers more than 34 million hectares (84 million acres) of land and includes nearly 400 locations. Attracting millions of visitors each year, sites include not only national parks and monuments, but historic areas, recreation areas, lakeshores, seashores, rivers, trails, and even battlefields. National parks are known for their ability to preserve history and culture, revitalize communities, and provide an atmosphere for active living. The most-visited national parks are the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina; the Grand Canyon in Arizona; and Yosemite in California.
civics
Noun

study of the rights and responsibilities of citizens of a nation, state, or other form of government.

Congress
Noun

legislative branch of the government, responsible for making laws. The U.S. Congress has two bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

conservationist
Noun

person who works to preserve natural habitats.

culture
Noun

learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

establish
Verb

to form or officially organize.

government
Noun

system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

National Park Service
Noun

U.S. federal agency with the mission of caring "for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage."

preserve
Verb

to maintain and keep safe from damage.

recreational
Adjective

having to do with activities done for enjoyment.

revitalize
Verb

to give new life to something, or renew interest.

testify
Verb

to offer evidence in court.

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