The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. The National Mall in the middle of Washington, DC may not seem like a typical national park, but it is an excellent example of natural and cultural resources coming together to preserve American heritage for this, and future, generations. There are many people who work hard to care for this special place. Click on an image or choose from the list below to meet a few of them.
Who knows when Washington, DC was established, how the stories of American history are told through each memorial, why the water in the Tidal Basin rises and falls, and where the closest Metro or bathroom is from any point on the National Mall? The National Mall Park Rangers! They also help with first aid, visit schools, and plan special events like the Fourth of July celebration.
Hundreds of veterans, students, and individuals from all over the country volunteer on the National Mall every year. Volunteer duties on the National Mall range from answering visitor questions at the memorials to patrolling the park on bike to picking up trash along the Potomac River. Many special projects, like recycling on the Fourth of July, or washing the war memorials on early weekend mornings, depend entirely on volunteers.
There are special law enforcement officers in Washington, DC, New York City, and San Francisco to protect National Parks in the midst of large urban areas. The United States Park Police respond to resource and visitor protection issues not only in the parks themselves, but also in the surrounding communities and roadways. Park Police on the National Mall have ties to the “Park Watchmen” created by George Washington himself in 1791.
The urban ecology, or “city nature,” found in and around the National Mall requires constant and creative management. Special care is taken to protect the unique and complex interaction between the park’s plants, animals, water, soil, air, and the city with millions of annual visitors all around it. Research and monitoring projects help us understand how nature and humans can coexist in an urban, landscaped setting.
Each memorial on the National Mall officially becomes a part of the National Park Service - and therefore a part of our national cultural heritage - after its dedication. From the Washington Monument dedicated in 1884 to the World War II Memorial dedicated in 2004, park service employees are responsible for the cleaning, preservation, and restoration of these mostly stone structures.
Imagine having a yard as big as the National Mall, or a building that you need to keep clean for thousands of people every day of the year. There are hundreds of Park Service employees who spend their time with lawn mowers, chain saws, snow shovels, paint brushes, mops and trash bags to ensure that the grass, gardens, fountains, walkways and memorials are beautiful and safe for all the visitors to Washington, DC.
Who is the most important member of the team who cares for each National Park? You are! The more you learn about all the National Parks, the more you learn about what makes this country’s natural and cultural history important and unique. Park rules and regulations help preserve these resources for future generations, so please follow them while you visit. You can become a volunteer or visit a National Park near you to help out and learn more about these special places that belong to all of us!
Stop 1: The Geology of the Washington D.C. Area
Stop 2: The History of Washington D.C.
Stop 3: Finding D.C.’s Foundation
Stop 4: A Watery Past
Stop 5: GeoStory of the Lincoln Memorial
Stop 6: Remembering War
Stop 7: Stories in Stone at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
Stop 8: Thomas Jefferson Memorial - A Place of Controversy
Stop 9: Washington Monument - The Nation’s Most Unique Rock Collection
Stop 10: Who Cares for the National Mall
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