NPCA: 102 years old and still delivering much-needed support for the National Parks

The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) is the only independent, nonpartisan membership organization devoted exclusively to advocacy on behalf of the National Parks System. Its mission is “to protect and enhance America’s National Park System for present and future generations.” Founded in 1919 as the National Parks Association, the organization was designed to be a citizen’s watchdog for the National Park Service (NPS) created in 1916. Among the founders of NPA was Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service — Wikipedia

I renewed my membership today as I have for more years than I can remember. No doubt there are a few gaps in my membership due to lean years, but I support the parks and the support groups that speak on the parks’ behalf. The parks are simultaneously underfunded and loved to death by massive numbers of visitors that are unsustainable.

I often wonder why more people aren’t members of NPCA. Glacier Park alone has more visitors every year and I think that if even half of those joined the NPCA, we might solve more of the problems facing the national park system.

The NPCA’s mission, as stated on its website, is “We’re protecting and enhancing America’s National Park System for present and future generations.” Since I’ve been following the problems of the parks since the 1960s, I’m rather cynical about park visitors, many of whom could probably care less about future generations as long as they got their visit checked off the bucket list before the system fell apart.

The organization has a lot on its plate. Here are the issues it tracks:

Climate Change
History and Culture
Park Funding
Visitor Experience

My feeling is that all of these are at risk and have been for years, long before climate change was included in NPCA’s concerns. On the NPCA’s advocacy page, there’s a simple message: “Learn about the challenges and opportunities facing national parks, then use your voice to advocate on their behalf.”

For the most part, we’re missing those voices.


“The Sun Singer” and “Sarabande” are set in Glacier National Park.