A Great Year for the Great Outdoors

Author of A Weird and Wild Beauty, Erin Peabody, shares some information on National Parks. Check it out below!

A Great Year for the Great Outdoors

Heading to one of America’s national parks this summer? If so, in addition to packing a good camera, sunscreen and a pair of sturdy hiking boots, you might want to bring along birthday candles—100 of them to be exact.

That’s because the agency charged with caring for our national parks and other special places, the National Park Service, turns a century old this year. The agency manages many of our country’s most beloved landscapes and vistas: mountains, geysers and canyons from places like Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. The Park Service also oversees sacred historic spaces: the memorials, battlefields, trails of tears and other hallowed landmarks that tell our unique American story.

The “national park idea” has been hailed as one of the United States’ best inventions. Countries from around the world have followed our example, setting aside spectacular scenery and habitat for the benefit of all people.

Yet this grand idea wasn’t forged overnight. Hardly. In fact, the first white Americans, you may be surprised to learn, feared, even hated wild nature (quite unlike the country’s first residents, the Native Americans). It took time—and the efforts of explorers, scientists, philosophers and poets—before everyday people found beauty, adventure and solace in the great outdoors.

Through an act of Congress, the world’s first national park, Yellowstone, was created in 1872—just in the nick of time. Had lawmakers waited any later, the stunning region would have been overrun with poachers and profiteers out to make a quick buck.

For more about the struggle to save Yellowstone, please see my book: A Weird and Wild Beauty: The Story of Yellowstone, the World’s First National Park. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to read them at erinpeabody.com.

A Weird and Wild Beauty by Erin Peabody

9781634502047-frontcoverThe summer of 1871, a team of thirty-two men set out on the first scientific expedition across Yellowstone. Through uncharted territory, some of the day’s most renowned scientists and artists explored, sampled, sketched, and photographed the region’s breathtaking wonders—from its white-capped mountain vistas and thundering falls to its burping mud pots and cauldrons of molten magma. At the end of their adventure, the survey packed up their specimens and boarded trains headed east, determined to convince Congress that the country needed to preserve the land from commercial development. They returned with “stories of wonder hardly short of fairy tales,” to quote the New York Times.

With the support of conservationists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Frederick Law Olmsted, and John Muir, the importance of a national park was secured. On March 1, 1872, Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone Park Bill into law. It set aside over two million acres of one-of-a-kind wilderness as “a great national park for the benefit and enjoyment of people.” This important and fascinating book will introduce young adults to the astonishing adventure that led to “the best idea America ever had.” Today over 130 countries have copied the Yellowstone model, and billions of acres of critical habitat and spectacular scenery are being preserved for all of us to enjoy.

This book has a wonderful ecological and historical message for readers ages 12 and up. No book about Yellowstone’s founding has been written for this age group before, yet Yellowstone National Park is a major destination for many families, so many readers will likely have heard of Yellowstone or even have visited there. This is a great book for any school library or for history or science classrooms in middle and high school, where information can be used for research projects.


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