National Parks Conservation Association

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National Parks Conservation Association
FoundedMay 19, 1919
(104 years ago)
FounderStephen Mather et al.
FocusProtecting the US National Park System
Area served
United States
Over 1,000,000[1]
$34,515,625 USD[2]

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. Robert Sterling Yard was NPA's first employee. Although Yard received personal financial support from Mather, the two often differed on development issues in the parks. Taking a strong preservationist position, Yard objected to such commercialization of the parks as the jazz bands and bear shows at Yosemite National Park.[4]

The association continued to resist commercial efforts to build dams and promote mining, logging and hunting in the national parks. In 1970, the organization changed its name to the National Parks and Conservation Association, in response to the national attention to a new range of emerging environmental issues, including air and water pollution. This was shortened to National Parks Conservation Association in 2000.


In pursuit of its core mission to protect the national parks of the United States, the NPCA "works to educate decision-makers and opinion leaders about the most pressing issues facing national parks".[3] At its headquarters in Washington, DC, and 27 regional offices around the country, it employs 153 staff members, including program and policy experts who work together with committed volunteers, staff lobbyists, community organizers and communications specialists.[1][3] Under the leadership of President and Chief Executive Officer Theresa Pierno, "the organization's strategic focus is on ensuring that as the leading advocate for national parks these places continue to be protected and have the resources and infrastructure they need to thrive in their second century."[5]

The NPCA publishes a quarterly magazine, National Parks, the print version of which is distributed primarily to its members with a circulation of 320,000[6] while articles are also available on its website.[7]



The North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2013 is a bill that would withdraw 430,000 acres of federal lands in Montana from programs to develop geothermal and mineral resources.[8][9] The law would forbid mountaintop removal mining and other natural resource development.[9] The affected lands lie adjacent to Glacier National Park and already have some protections.[8] The bill follows up on an agreement between Canada and the United States on how to protect the trans-border area from the effects of mining.[10] In the 2010 agreement, Canada agreed not to do any additional mining on the British Columbian Flathead with the expectation that Montana would do the same thing to its land.[10] The NPCA supported the bill, saying the bill "protects both our outdoor heritage and our economic future for generations to come."[11]


The NPCA opposed the Water Rights Protection Act, a bill that would prevent federal agencies from requiring certain entities to relinquish their water rights to the United States in order to use public lands.[12][13] According to opponents, the bill is too broad.[13][14] They believe the bill "could also block federal fisheries agencies like the United States Fish and Wildlife Service from requiring flows that help salmon find fish ladders and safely pass over dams."[13]

In June 2017 the United States Fish and Wildlife Service removed the Grizzly Bear from Yellow Stone National Parks "endangered species list". The National Parks Conservation Association is suing the Fish and Wildlife Services for not going through the proper channels in their decision to remove the species from the endangered list.[15] Citing that the Fish and Wildlife Service, "fails to provide long-term and enforceable regulations to ensure the grizzly population remains stable and is able to increase in both size and geographic scope."[15] "It could open the way to hunting grizzly bears on private and state-owned land inside and adjacent to the area’s national park sites, further jeopardizing the long-term health of the grizzly population."[15] "It does not include measures that would encourage connectivity with grizzly bears that live in the Crown of the Continent/Glacier ecosystem, depriving both populations of the genetic diversity they need to thrive."[15] "It fails to provide the National Park Service with a formal seat at the table to work with state agencies to manage bears that move beyond park borders."[15] "It fails to properly consider how climate change will impact the grizzly bears long-term."[15]

The NPCA opposes the cutting of the Clean Power Plan, which if cut would increase the levels of carbon emissions and sulfur dioxides found in the parks which could lead to potential loss of life in and around the parks. The NPCA is using their strong grassroots base to petition the EPA, its Administrator Scott Pruitt, and the Trump Administration to keep the Clean Power Plan practices.[16]

National Parks Conservation Association Awards[edit]

The National Parks Conservation Association presents a number of annual awards. These awards include the William Penn Mott Park Leadership Award recognizing the efforts of a public official standing as a strong advocate of the national parks. Other awards include the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Citizen Conservationist of the Year, National Park Achievement Award, Robin W. Winks Award for Enhancing Public Understanding of National Parks, and Stephen Tyng Mather Award Recipients.

Charity ratings and financials[edit]

The NPCA received an overall 3 star (out of 4) rating from Charity Navigator for fiscal year 2015, based on a score of 76.73 (out of 100) for Financial, and 97.00 for Accountability and Transparency.[17]

Its fiscal year 2014 tax filing (form 990) shows that staff salaries were equal to 50.0% of revenues.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Our Story". National Parks Conservation Association. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  2. ^ NPCA 2016 Annual Report. National Parks Conservation Association. p. 36. Available as a PDF file, from Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c NPCA 2016 Annual Report. National Parks Conservation Association. p. 40. Available as a PDF file, from Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  4. ^ Miles, Guardians of the Parks, pp. 4-52.
  5. ^ "Theresa Pierno, President and CEO". National Parks Conservation Association. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  6. ^ "Readership | NPCA Media Kit".
  7. ^ "National Parks Magazine". National Parks Conservation Association. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "CBO - H.R. 2259". Congressional Budget Office. February 10, 2014. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
  9. ^ a b Scott, Tristan (March 30, 2013). "Daines to introduce legislation protecting North Fork Flathead". Missoulian. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
  10. ^ a b Frye, Katrin (January 31, 2014). "A major step towards protection of the North Fork Flathead River". Montana Public Radio. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
  11. ^ "North Fork Watershed Protection Act Would Protect Beauty and Viability of the Greater Crown of the Continent Without Infringing on Private Property Rights". National Parks Conservation Association. February 8, 2013. Archived from the original on March 4, 2014. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
  12. ^ "H.R. 3189 - CBO". Congressional Budget Office. December 9, 2013. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  13. ^ a b c Nathan Fey; Matt Rice (December 20, 2013). "'Water Rights Protection Act' puts rivers at risk". Post Independent. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  14. ^ Fey, Nathan (November 12, 2013). "The Water Rights Protection Act is Bad For Rivers - Take Action!". American Whitewater. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  15. ^ a b c d e f "Court Ruling Saves Greater Yellowstone Grizzly Bears". National Parks Conservation Association.
  16. ^ "EPA: Protect National Parks -- Don't Repeal the Clean Power Plan!: Inactive - National Parks Conservation Association".
  17. ^ "National Parks Conservation Association". Charity Navigator. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  18. ^ Form 990 – National Parks Conservation Association for 2014, via Foundation Center 990 Finder. Retrieved March 5, 2017.


  • John C. Miles, Guardians of the Parks: A History of the National Parks and Conservation Association (Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis, 1995). ISBN 1-56032-446-5

External links[edit]