PLAINS, Georgia – Former President Jimmy Carter was bestowed the award and title of honorary national park ranger at an intimate ceremony Sunday by National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. This is the highest civilian honor awarded by the agency, and is reserved for individuals whose contribution to the National Park System is exceptional.
“President Carter embodies the spirit and principals of the National Park Service and it is a great honor for me to present him with this award,” said Director Jarvis. “As we look forward to our agency’s next 100 years, we can look back and be inspired by the incredible work of President Carter.”
“This is indeed an honor for me,” said President Carter. “Before I became President I was already deeply committed to the outdoors. I am very proud to have been an integral part of the conservation movement.”
President Carter’s signature achievements, through executive and legislative means, created a total of thirty nine National Park Service units. The parks established under his presidency celebrate our nation’s fight for equal rights with Martin Luther King Junior National Historic Site (NHS), Women’s Rights National Historic Park (NHP), Kaloko-Honokahau NHP and Boston African American NHS. The War in the Pacific National Historic Park expanded the span of the National Park Service across the international dateline to Guam.
President Carter established permanent protection of more than 56 million acres in Alaska through the designation of 13 national monuments on December 1, 1978. With that single act, President Carter more than doubled the land area protected under National Park Service management. His use of presidential proclamation to protect those lands from immediate threat was followed by continued advocacy for legislated protection of these lands and waters, culminating in the Alaska National Interests Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) signed December 2, 1980. His bold actions ensured preservation of natural wonders and historic sites, and ensured that the traditions of the native Alaskan people could continue.
President Carter’s remarked upon signing the ANILCA legislation: “We've preserved the unparalleled beauty of areas like the Misty Fiords and Admiralty Island National Monuments in southeast Alaska. And we've ensured that Alaska's Eskimos and Indians and Aleuts can continue their traditional way of life. And we've given the State of Alaska, finally, the opportunity to choose the land which will be theirs through eternity.
I've been fortunate. I've seen firsthand some of the splendors of Alaska. But many Americans have not. Now, whenever they or their children or their grandchildren choose to visit Alaska, they'll have the opportunity to see much of its splendid beauty undiminished and its majesty untarnished.”
The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area are among the units he established that protect important resources and recreational opportunities near urban centers, benefitting millions of visitors annually. Urban parks continue today as the most visited units of the National Park System.
President Carter was a leader in the efforts to protect, recognize and assist communities and urban areas to support outdoor and urban recreation, establishing many programs which are now integral to the National Park Service Urban Agenda.
President and Mrs. Carter greeted the assembled friends and guests in the Plains High School auditorium after the ceremony, having thoroughly enjoyed the retrospective of accomplishments during his presidential years.
Video will be made available to the media shortly following this release. Any media interested in video footage of the ceremony should email a request toe-mail us.
Please be sure to check for upcoming events on social media or atwww.nps.gov/jica. Also, come join our online community by following us on Facebook at Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, Twitter at @JimmyCarterNHS1, and Instagram at jimmycarternps. For school field trip information and reservations, please visitwww.jimmycarter.infoor call the historic site at (229) 824-4104.
The National Park Service has more than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 410 National Parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. To celebrate the centennial, the NPS is inviting all generations to discover or rediscover the special places that belong to all Americans. It is challenging everyone to “Find Your Park” with creative events and activities throughout 2016. For more information visit: http://FindYourPark.com.