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The Kid Should See This

Why do we need national parks?

In 1903, US President Theodore Roosevelt took a camping trip in California’s Yosemite Valley with conservationist John Muir. Roosevelt famously loved the outdoors, but Muir had invited him for more than just camping: Yosemite was in danger.

Over the years, landscapes across the west have been vulnerable to mining, clearcutting, overdevelopment, and other projects. This moved the United States to establish open natural spaces for both public use and ecological preservation. Today, the country’s 421 national park sites are protected treasures, but establishing them was not an easy process, and maintaining the balance of these two goals continues to be a challenge.



The appropriation of land from the native peoples—American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians—who had lived on it for generations is another challenging part of the parks’ histories. “Today, the National Park Service is working to partner with indigenous peoples to places and practices of cultural significance.”

Learn some of this history from Elyse Cox’s TED-Ed lesson Why We Need National Parks, with animation by Rémi Cans and Sergi Ros.


Watch more videos about conservation and national parks:
• Chief Oshkosh and a history of Menominee Forest conservation
• Noticing the soundscapes of Yosemite National Park
Star Parties In Our National Parks: Parks After Dark
How can nature be used as a tool to restore ecosystems?
• Petrified Forest National Park and how petrified wood is made

Bonus: How Can Farms and Forests Coexist?

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