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Encyclopedia > United States National Park Service
National Park Service
National Park Service logo
Established: April 5, 1916
Director: Fran P. Mainella
Budget: $1.6 billion (2004)
Employees: 20,000 (2004)

The National Park Service (NPS) is the United States government agency that deals with U.S. National Parks and U.S. National Monuments. It was created on August 25, 1916 by Congress in order to "conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." It is a branch of the United States Department of the Interior, which is in turn an arm of the executive branch. The NPS oversees 380 units, of which 56 are designated national parks. Other units are designated national monuments, historical parks, memorials, historic trails, recreation areas, wild and scenic rivers, lakeshores, seashores, and battlefields. The U.S. Park Police are the law enforcement division of the National Park Service, with jurisdiction in all National Parks.

The United States National Park system encompasses approximately 83.6 million acres (338,000 kmē), of which more than 4.3 million acres (17,000 kmē) remain in private ownership. The largest park is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. At 13,200,000 acres (53,000 kmē) it is over 16 percent of the entire system. The smallest unit in the system is Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, Pennsylvania, at 0.02 of an acre (80 mē).

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