Scientists Celebrate 100 Years of National Park Service

August 29, 2016

National Park Service Centennial

A centennial is definitely something worth commemorating.  On August 25th, 2016, the United States National Park Services did just that.  They invited citizens to celebrate with them this important milestone by hosting events and offering free admission over the weekend.

While many people are celebrating the space, and the beautiful nature that is accessible thanks to these parks, some scientists are applauding something a bit more scholarly.

It was in 1904 that Joseph Grinnell, the first director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, took his students on their first journey in California to survey and collect species for study from many sites that are now known formally as National Parks.  The adventure lasted for 35 years, and brought forth an overwhelming quantity of specimens, field notes, and photos.

What manifested over 100 years later is the benefit of preserved documentation containing vital information that will help students and scientists of today better understand the impact that climate change and development has had on biodiversity. 

Ten years ago, a group of colleagues from UC Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, started on a journey and began to re-visit sites that were traveled to, a century prior in a Ford Model T.  The group from UC Berkley embarked on their own scientific adventure in order to observe the migratory path of California’s native species as the global climate continues to warm.

Scientists like Steve Beissinger confirm that the endless efforts of Joseph Grinnell and his crew were well worth it by confirming that he and his colleagues are the students of the future that will benefit from the studious labors of the past.  With comparative data that is a century old; a more comprehensive study can be conducted.

In June of 2016, President Obama made reference to the findings when commenting on the movement of animals across the land, and the drying landscape.

With 413 National Parks active today, it’s important that the value of conservation be embraced not just on the surface, but for more profound reasons as well.  Scientists are not only celebrating a centennial this month, but also a job well done by the National Park Service when it comes to conservation.

Knowledge from the past is a great tool in assisting those on the front lines who are acting on climate change today, and into the future.  As the global climate continues to change, it is not only conservation that is important, but also documentation of what is intended to be conserved.

Interested in reading more about the role UC Berkley played in the legislation that established the National Park Service?  Check out this great article on their blog!

What did you do to celebrate the National Park Service centennial?  We want to hear all about it – comment below or connect on social media!

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