TITLE: The National Park Service: ParkNet

ACCESS: http://www.nps.gov/

With 384 parks, monuments, battlefields, seashores, and other areas, 15,000 employees, and 90,000 volunteers, the National Park Service (NPS) is a large operation, with a Web site to match. Well-designed, with liberal use of color and black and white photos, this site is both enjoyable to use and informative. It is aimed at the general public, but parts of the site also serve park employees, with links to items such as search and rescue forms.

"Visit Your Parks" provides detailed information for each park: activities, fees, camping, lodging, maps, news, volunteer information, activities for kids, park bookstores, and much more. "ParkSmart" offers NPS background information and educational materials. In "Links to the Past," users will find a wide array of historical and cultural resources.

For information on air quality, wildlife and plants, water resources, geology and people in the national parks, click on "NatureNet." On this page, "Data/Science" offers items of particular interest to academics such as summaries of research projects in the national parks, research opportunities, guidelines, and permit information for conducting scientific studies. Extensive GIS data is available as well as information on the Sabbaticals in the Parks program. Apply now!

"Info Zone" includes the Reference Desk, with a searchable staff directory and park statistics. Also in the "Info Zone" are job announcements, information on NPS planning, budget, mission and history. The Legislation section includes links to recent laws related to the NPS, and announcements of upcoming hearings on the NPS budget. "Press Room" includes recent press releases, interesting bits of news from parks around the country, and daily news compilations with everything from fire updates to train derailments in national parks.

As of this writing, a special section focuses on African American history in the national parks, with photo archives, writings, speeches (such as Martin Luther King's) and links to readings and related educational materials. One of the goals of Robert Stanton, the recently retired director of NPS, was to increase diversity in the NPS and among park visitors. The site includes a useful list of parks that recognize people and events in African American history.

Although many of the pages on this site have been recently updated, many pages have no dates, while others were last updated just before the 2000 election. Since a new NPS director has not been appointed at this writing, it remains to be seen how this site might change under the new administration.

Susan E. Clark
University of Washington

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