The nation’s first and one of the most iconic national parks, Yellowstone celebrates its 150th anniversary as a protected region in 2022. Located primarily in the northwest corner of Wyoming, the park reaches into Idaho and Montana and spans over 3,400 square miles — bigger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
Yellowstone is a staple of U.S. environmental tourism, drawing in over four million visitors in five out of the last six years (with the exception of 2020). With so much to offer from epic scenery to unique wildlife, the park serves as an example of the power protecting nature can hold. Some of the highlights of the park, according to Yellowstone.org, include:
- 10,000 hydrothermal features — including geysers, hot springs, mud pots and fumaroles
- Yellowstone Lake, the largest high elevation lake in North America, at 7,733 feet above sea level
- 67 species of mammals and 285 species of birds
- 290 waterfalls
- Around 1,000 miles of hiking trails
“The natural world can continue to surprise us, as long as we give it space to thrive,” said President Barack Obama while narrating the 2022 Netflix documentary series, Our Great National Parks. “What happens inside our parks affects us all,” he said.
During his eight years in office, Obama protected 548 million acres of natural habitat, more than any other president in U.S. history. He also created 22 new parks within the National Park system, again, more than any president in history.
This type of commitment to the preservation of nature is critical to ensuring that generations to come can enjoy places like Yellowstone for another 150 years, and beyond.
Robert F. Smith and the National Park Foundation
While politicians can have a significant impact on environmental conservation, the importance of organizations like the National Park Foundation (NPF) cannot be understated. The NPF was chartered by Congress in 1967 and is the only active nonprofit organization that supports the National Park Service.
Philanthropist Robert F. Smith and Fund II Foundation have contributed to the NPF on multiple occasions, specifically to its African American Experience Fund. These donations have allowed the NPF to preserve the Pullman Porter National Monument and the homes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Atlanta.
“The national parks hold a special place not just in my family’s history, but in the history of our nation. These sites are where many of our ancestors and leaders spent time, lived, thrived, fought, and gathered,” said Smith in an interview with NPF CEO Will Shafroth. “On a personal level, I’ve always felt a calling to preserve these spaces and share their stories with my community.”
In recognition of Smith’s continued support, the NPF awarded him the title of “Honorary Ranger,” citing his commitment to preserving African American history and culture as a core reason for the honor.
“Throughout the majority of our history, Black Americans have been excluded from accessing recreational spaces, whether through policies barring access or via discriminatory practices like redlining,” said Smith to Shafroth. “Today, much of my philanthropic focus centers around sharing the rich history of these landmarks with our youth and providing them access to outdoor spaces and educational opportunities to show how all our experiences are inextricably linked.”
Smith’s environmentally focused philanthropy goes beyond the NPF. He has worked with multiple organizations at a local level to support the communities he lives and works in, including: