August 25th, 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS). The NPS, a bureau of the United States Department of the Interior, is in charge of maintaining and protecting our national parks. The very first national park established in the U.S. was Yellowstone, which Congress declared to be a national park on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone is not only the first national park to be created in the United States; it is the first federally-sanctioned national park in the world.
There are a number of national parks in each state in the union. Combined, these parks make up 418 sites and cover over 84 million acres of land. In recent years, national parks have been visited by more than 275 million people every year on average. By comparison, in 1920, national parks only welcomed an average of 1 million visitors annually. In 2015 alone, more than 307 million people visited U.S. national parks.
National Park System
Millions of Americans, along with tourists to the United States, have visited at least one national park in their lifetime. It’s important to note that the designation of “national park” does not necessarily mean that the area named is an actual recreational park - there are a number of trails, scenic sites and monuments included in the National Park System. Currently, the United States National Park System consists of:
- 128 historical parks/sites
- 81 national monuments
- 59 national parks
- 25 battlefields/military parks
- 19 preserves
- 18 recreational areas
- 10 seashores
- 4 parkways
- 4 lakeshores
- 2 reserves
(Source: National Park Service. Dept. of the Interior. Nps.gov)
Well-Known Sites within the National Park System
If you haven’t visited a national park or site, there’s a good chance that you have at least heard of one or two of the more famous ones. The following is a list of well-known sites within the National Park System:
- Historical Park – Yosemite
- National Monument – Statue of Liberty
- National Park – Grand Canyon
- Battlefield/Military Park – Gettysburg
- National Preserve – Denali
- National Recreation Area – Golden Gate
- National Seashore – Padre Island
- National Parkway – Natchez Trace (444 mile drive)
- National Lakeshore – Indiana Dunes
- National Reserve – Ebey’s Landing
- National Scenic Trail – Appalachian Trail (crosses 14 states from Maine to Georgia, it’s over 2, 180 miles long)
- National Historic Trail – Lewis & Clark (crosses 11 states), also the Trail of Tears
- National Scenic River – Rio Grande
- National Memorial – Mount Rushmore
- National Heritage Area – Niagara Falls
- National Historical Site – Martin Luther King Jr.
It’s amazing to consider how many beautiful sites and regions that the United States has to offer from coast to coast. The next time you are deciding where to spend your hard-earned vacation, consider visiting one of these places. Not only do you get to enjoy breathtaking views and explore our country’s nature and wildlife, but you also get to learn about the history of each site and why each one is important to our culture, as well as why they were established as national parks in the first place.
If beautiful scenery doesn’t peak your interest, you could take part in one of many recreational activities available in national parks instead, such as hiking the Appalachian Trail or adventuring down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up again (keep in mind, though, that going down is always easier than coming up!).
Doing Business with the National Park Service
We are proud that tribes, local governments, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individual citizens ask for our help in revitalizing their communities, preserving local history, celebrating local heritage, and creating close to home opportunities for kids and families to get outside, be active, and have fun. Taking care of the national parks and helping Americans take care of their communities is a job we love, and we need—and welcome—your help and support.[i]
Working or volunteering for a national park goes a long way towards preserving the parks and ensuring that generations to come will be able to enjoy each park, site, and monument in the National Park System.
It takes a lot of work to maintain our national parks, much more than National Park Service employees can handle on their own. This is why the government contracts out maintenance, repair and other jobs to private vendors. For example, there are more than 500 concession contracts administered at more than 100 national parks; these concessions are to provide food, lodging, transportation, tours, shops and a variety of recreational activities including rafting, trail riding, and boating to park visitors. To meet the needs of the millions of visitors to national parks there are over 600 concessioners under contract with the government to provide these services. During peak season, more than 25,000 jobs are created in national parks and over $1 billion in gross revenue is generated every year.[ii]
In addition to concession contracts, the NPS procures many contracted services to help maintain the parks and ensure visitors have an enjoyable time. Examples of contracts include construction of buildings, road maintenance, roof repairs and operation of water treatment plants, as well as the purchase of furniture, vehicles, office equipment and other products.
Where to Find Contract Opportunities with the National Park Service
All contract opportunities available with the National Park Service are considered to be federal bids. These bids can be found on the Federal Business Opportunities electronic business portal at fedbizopps.gov. You must be registered with SAM.gov and have obtained a DUNS number in order to bid on federal contracts. Also, make sure that all certificate and insurance forms required to do business with the federal government are completed and up to date.
Whether you are new to federal bidding or a seasoned professional, there are thousands of bids posted every day for products and services that the NPS would like to purchase. It’s worth taking a look on a regular basis to see what types of open contracts your company could bid on - and potentially win.
Danielle Calamaras | BidNet.com
[i] N.p. National Park Service. Department of the Interior. About Us. nps.gov. n.d. web. 28 June 2016
[ii] N.p. National Park Service. Department of the Interior. Doing Business with Us. nps.gov. n.d. web. 28 June 2016