Congress Approves National Park Expansion

The latest defense bill gives the park system its largest expansion in decades.
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The latest defense bill gives the park system its largest expansion in decades.

America's national parks received a boost Friday after the Senate passed a defense spending bill that included new land and funding appropriations, a move that will add thousands of acres of wilderness land and expand existing national heritage areas. The bill, which President Obama is expected to sign, would be the biggest national park expansion since 1978.

Apostle Islands, Oregon Caves National Monument and Gettysburg National Military Park are three of nine national park sites that will see a combined expansion of around 120,000 acres. The legislation also establishes nearly 245,000 acres of new wilderness land and will create new national historical sites including Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in New York, Tule Springs Fossil Beds in Nevada, and Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which will be spread across Washington, New Mexico, and Tennessee.

“This legislation clearly demonstrates that Congress and the administration are making national parks a national priority," Clark Bunting, president of National Parks Conservation Association, told CNN.

Read more: National Parks Traveler | CNN