Although Congress set aside Yellowstone National Park in 1872, there was no real system of national parks until a federal bureau, the National Park Service, was created on August 25, 1916 to manage those areas then assigned to the U.S. Department of the Interior. Following is a list of significant legislation which influenced the creation and growth of the National Park System.
Yellowstone National Park Act, 1872
"There is created in the Department of the Interior a service to be called the National Park Service, which shall be under the charge of a director....The service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations hereinafter specified, except as are under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Army, as provided by law, by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purpose to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment for the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."
General Authorities Act, 1970 - The purpose of this act is to include all areas administered by the National Park Service in one National Park System and to clarify the authorities applicable to the system. Areas of the National Park System, the act states,
"though distinct in character, are united through their inter-related purposes and resources into one national park system as cumulative expressions of a single national heritage; that, individually and collectively, these areas derive increased national dignity and recognition of their superb environmental quality through their inclusion jointly with each other in one national park system preserved and managed for the benefit and inspiration of all people of the United States..."
Redwoods Act, as amended 1978- This act reasserted the system-wide standard of protection prescribed by Congress in the original Organic Act. It states,
"Congress further reaffirms, declares, and directs the promotion and regulation of the various areas of the National Park System...shall be consistent with and founded in the purpose established by the first section of the Act of August 25, 1916, to the common benefit of all the people of the United States. The authorization of activities shall be construed and the protection, management, and administration of these areas shall be conducted in light of the high public value and integrity of the National Park System and shall not be exercised in derogation of the values and purposes for which these various areas have been established, except as may have been or shall be directly and specifically provided by Congress."