Mission, Purpose and Significance Statements for Big Bend National Park
The National Park Service at Big Bend National Park preserves and protects a representative area of the Chihuahuan Desert along the Rio Grande for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. The park’s mission is to preserve and protect all natural and significant cultural resources and values, to provide recreational opportunities that are compatible with the protection and appreciation of park resources for diverse groups, and to provide educational opportunities to foster understanding and appreciation of the natural and human history of the region.
The park is significant because it contains the most representative example of the Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem in the United States. The park’s river, desert, and mountain environments support an extraordinary richness of biological diversity, including endemic plants and animals, and provide unparalleled recreation opportunities. The geologic features and Cretaceous and Tertiary fossils in Big Bend National Park furnish opportunities to study the sedimentary and igneous processes. Archeological and historic resources provide examples of cultural interaction in the Big Bend Region and varied ways humans adapted to the desert and river environments. The Rio Grande is life-sustaining for plants, animals, and human inhabitants beyond its banks. Along with the two Mexican protected areas for flora and fauna, Maderas del Carmen and Cañon de Santa Elena, Big Bend is now part of one of the largest transboundary protected areas in North America. More than two million acres of Chihuahuan Desert resources, along with more than 200 miles of river, are now under the national protection of the United States and Mexico.