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In the Antiquities Act of 1906 Congress authorized the President to proclaim features of historic and scientific interest on public lands as national monuments On August 25 1916 President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating the National Park Service Later President Theodore Roosevelt named national monuments such as the cliff dwellings in Montezuma Castle Arizona and large natural areas like Death Valley California Some areas initially protected as national monuments like Petrified Forest the Grand Canyon and Death Valley were later made national parks by Congress By 1916 the Department of Interior oversaw 14 national parks and 21 national monuments but it was without effective administration Therefore Congress created a new bureau within Interior to manage these areas to conserve natural scenery and wild life for the enjoyment of many future generations The first director was Stephen T Mather At first the National Park Service dealt mostly with natural areas west of the Mississippi Beginning in the 1890s a number of historic battlefields and other national monuments fell under the War Department and the Department of Agriculture In a 1933 government reorganization all of these areas were united under Park Service administration forming a single national park system Later the Blue Ridge Parkway and Natchez Trace Parkway begun as Depression period public works projects were landscaped for recreational motoring over scenic terrain The National Park Service began to build and administer recreational facilities on several major bodies of water such as the Lake Mead National Recreation Area behind Hoover Dam The last major expansion of the system came in 1980 when Congress directed additions in Alaska totaling about 47 million acres which was remote and unspoiled with mountains glaciers wildlife and archaeological sites At present there are 388 units within the National Park System Approximately 290 million people visited our National Parks in Fiscal Year 2000 The National Park Service serves under the Department of Interior it has a national director the current director is
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