The year 2016 is a special year for the national parks and protected areas in the United States. It is the the 100th anniversary of the Organic Act, the 100th anniversary of the creation of Sieur de Monts national monument, now known as Acadia National Park, and the 110th anniversary of the Antiquities Act.
Organic Act of 1916
The Organic Act, enacted in 1916, created the National Park Service. Many national parks, such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, and others, were created prior to 1916 and therefore were managed individually. This act declared that the federal government would manage all national parks and monuments, using some common guidelines. However, the parks are all created by their own legislative acts of Congress, which means that they are managed according to their individual needs. Additionally, 1916 also included the creation of Sieur de Monts National Monument, which later became Acadia National Park.
Antiquities Act of 1906
The Antiquities Act, enacted in 1906, gave the President of the United States the authority to designate national monuments, which can include historic and prehistoric landmarks and structures and any land of historic or scientific interest to the United States. These monuments must be on federal land before they can be designated as such. Prior to 1906, lands could be preserved (such as Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite Park), but an act of Congress was required in addition to presidential approval. The Antiquities Act, however, paved the way for greater tracts of land to be conserved.
Acadia National Park History
In 1604, a Frenchman named Samuel Champlain arrived at Mount Desert Island and decided that, since the tops of mountains were bare and rocky, he would name the island Isles de Monts Déserts. Nine years later, French Jesuits established the first French mission in America. Throughout the next several hundred years, the island changed hands from the French to the British to the Americans, where it ended up in the hands of private owners. In the late 1800s in particular, families such as the Rockefellers and the Carnegies held much of the land.
In 1901, George B. Dorr, a wealthy conservationist, recognized the need to limit development on Mount Desert Island. He formed the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations, who bought 6,000 acres of public land and offered it to the government. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson declared it Sieur de Monts National Monument, after Lieutenant Governor Sieur Pierre de Gua de Monts, who had control of North America from Montreal to present-day Philadelphia in the early 1600s.
Dorr continued to advocate for the island, and in 1919 it became Lafayette National Park. Lafayette was the first national park east of the Mississippi River, and Dorr was the first park superintendent. Lafayette was the name for American air squadrons fighting for France during World War I, and Dorr chose it to get Congress to pay closer attention to the bill that would create the national park. In the 1920s, Dorr wished to add land from the tip of Schoodic Peninsula to Acadia, but that land was owned by two women who resided in England and objected to a French name. In response, Dorr changed the name to Acadia National Park, and the women permitted the Schoodic land to become part of Acadia.