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National Park System: Establishing New Units

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Publication Date: September 2006

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RS20158

Topic: Environment (Parks, nature reserves, and open spaces)


The National Park System includes 390 diverse units administered by the National Park Service (NPS) of the Department of the Interior. Units generally are added to the National Park System by act of Congress, although the President may proclaim national monuments on land that is federally managed for inclusion in the system. Before enacting a law to add a unit, Congress might first enact a law requiring the NPS to study an area, typically to assess its national significance, suitability and feasibility, and other management options. Important areas also are preserved outside the National Park System through programs managed or supported by the NPS. This report will be updated if the processes, criteria, and concerns change.