Grand Canyon National Park reflects, anticipates another century

Grand Canyon National Park | Stock image, St. George News

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. – As the National Park Service prepares for a second century of service, Grand Canyon National Park celebrates the significant accomplishments of the NPS centennial celebration and looks ahead to its own park centennial in 2019.

View from the South Rim Historic District, Grand Canyon, Ariz., Dec. 25, 2015 | National Park Service photo by M. Quinn, St. George News
View from the South Rim Historic District, Grand Canyon, Ariz., Dec. 25, 2015 | Photo by Michael Quinn courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park, St. George News

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, offering an opportunity to celebrate accomplishments in Grand Canyon National Park and its surrounding community, the parks news release said. Throughout 2016 Grand Canyon promoted the NPS centennial goal, “to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates,” through innovative actions, events and integration of parks and community-based programs.

Following are elements the park noted in its release:

Engaging young people in the Park Service mission  

An important component of the NPS centennial was a call to action, which outlined a framework for the NPS second century of service and focusing on the need to be more relevant to all Americans, expand the park’s work and park perspectives to connect with new audiences and build an organization that reflects the diversity of the country.

Family-friendly activities and games took place during Grand Canyon National Park's 7th Annual Celebrate Wildlife Day. Celebrate Wildlife Day provides opportunities for park visitors and residents to learn about the work of wildlife biologists and about the unique wildlife found in Arizona and the Grand Canyon area, Grand Canyon, Ariz., Sept. 13, 2014 | National Park Service photo by Erin Whittaker, St. George News
Family-friendly activities and games took place during Grand Canyon National Park’s 7th Annual Celebrate Wildlife Day. Celebrate Wildlife Day provides opportunities for park visitors and residents to learn about the work of wildlife biologists and about the unique wildlife found in Arizona and the Grand Canyon area, Grand Canyon, Ariz., Sept. 13, 2014 | Photo by Erin Whittaker courtesy of National Park Service, St. George News

Grand Canyon celebrated a number of these initiatives including: No. 2, Step by Step; No. 8, Next Generation Stewards; and No. 33, Homegrown. The park passed out 3,134 “Every Kid in a Park” passes, engaging young people from the Grand Canyon community in park service internships and providing information about National Park Service careers during job fairs and career day events.

Grand Canyon also participated in initiative No. 36, Value Diversity. It led a cultural competence workshop with Dr. Katherine Campbell of the Bureau of Indian Education; it offered a “Diversifying the Outdoors” program with Jose Gonzales, founder of Latino Outdoors; put on “Xico in the Wilderness” and entertained visits from Tucson’s Urban Fellow.

(report continues below)

Find Your Park / Encuentra Tu Parque campaign at Grand Canyon

For eight days every June, park visitors and residents explore the wonders of the night sky at Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, June 13, 2013 | Photo by Michael Quinn courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park, St. George News
For eight days every June, park visitors and residents explore the wonders of the night sky at Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz., June 13, 2013 | Photo by Michael Quinn courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park, St. George News

In 2015, visitation to Grand Canyon National Park increased by almost 1 million visitors, and the 2016 centennial year visitation continues to increase by 8.6 percent, amounting to more than 6 million visitors. 

This is an exciting landmark for Grand Canyon National Park, its new release said, noting it has seen a steady increase in visitation since 2011 and has received more than 200 million visitors since its establishment as a national park. 

In recent years, increase in visitation can be accounted to the development of national campaigns like “Find Your Park.”

During the year, Grand Canyon expanded public engagement by participating in Find Your Park / Encuentra Tu Parque, a campaign to raise awareness of national parks and sites. Through more than 1,730 posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with a public reach of over 190 million, Grand Canyon raised awareness of the NPS centennial and various national campaigns including Find Your Park and Every Kid in a Park.  Additionally, Grand Canyon shared thousands of printed materials with park partners and visitors.

Bike Your Park Day included a dedication, ribbon cutting and inaugural ride of newly paved Tusayan to Grand Canyon Visitor Center Greenway Trail, Grand Canyon, Ariz., Sept. 24, 2016 | National Park Service photo by M.Quinn, St. George News
Bike Your Park Day included a dedication, ribbon cutting and inaugural ride of newly paved Tusayan to Grand Canyon Visitor Center Greenway Trail, Grand Canyon, Ariz., Sept. 24, 2016 | Photo by Michael Quinn courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park, St. George News

Centennial events highlighted Grand Canyon’s diversity

Grand Canyon conducted a robust year of activities, events and celebrations to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Centennial events focused on celebrating Grand Canyon’s diverse and unique natural, cultural and historical resources as well as the communities that have shaped the park. Grand Canyon led and participated in more than 47 events with more than 25,000 attendees over the course of 2016. 

Designed in 1932 By Mary Colter and constructed by the Santa Fe Railroad, The Desert View Watchtower overlooks the eastern end of Grand Canyon National Park. The Colorado River is visible lower left. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, undated | Photo courtesy of National Park Service, St. George News
Designed in 1932 by Mary Colter and constructed by the Santa Fe Railroad, the Desert View Watchtower overlooks the eastern end of Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz., undated | Photo courtesy of National Park Service, St. George News

Events like the “Community Winter Carnival” and “Desert View Watchtower Rededication Ceremony” brought Grand Canyon and surrounding tribal communities together to celebrate the park’s cultural resources. 

“Wildland Fire Day” on the North Rim emerged from a collaboration between the NPS and neighboring Forest Service to help the public learn more about wildland fires. 

The “Founder’s Day Naturalization Ceremony” welcomed 15 new U.S. citizens from 12 different countries and introduced them to the national park system.

Preparing for a second century of service and Grand Canyon’s centennial in 2019

Following the momentum garnered in 2016 from the NPS centennial, Grand Canyon will continue to expand its reach and promote national initiatives and campaigns like Find Your Park / Encuentra Tu Parque to reach new audiences so they may develop a deeper understanding and connection to these special places.

As Grand Canyon prepares for its own centennial in 2019, it said in its news release, it hopes to honor the past and inspire future generations to help ensure others may experience national parks and sites and promote stewardship of parks.

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