Photo courtesy of NPS

By Mary Forgione
Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
August 24, 2012, 6:45 a.m.

The National Park Service, the agency that overseas 397 national parks, battlefields, monuments, historic sites, seashores and even scenic byways, turns 96 on Saturday.Some parks are older than that — Yellowstone, the nation’s oldest park, was created in 1872 — and some are much younger. Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, for example, is little known even though it stretches 8.4 million acres in Alaska’s Brooks Range. It became a national park and preserve in 1980. Or the lush National Park of American Samoa, which was designated parkland in 1988.

In honor of the Park Service milestone, Yosemite National Park will be holding presentations on search and rescue, fire management and science, and other aspects of park management from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Yosemite Visitor Center in Yosemite Valley. Also, an 8 p.m. program will discuss the history of the Park Service at LeConte Memorial Lodge.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the island of Hawaii also will turn 96 on Saturday. The park is set to celebrate the U.S. Mint release of quarters bearing an image of the park. The quarter will make its debut at the park during ceremonies from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

And Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado will be hosting a sixth BioBlitz, an event that will be held every year leading up to the Park Service centennial in 2016. On Friday and Saturday, teams of experts and novices will comb the park to document as many species as possible in a 24-hour period. An accompanying Biodiversity Festival takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days at Estes Park Fairgrounds.

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