Denali National Park and Preserve Quarter
One thing I love about national parks is that they help to keep areas close to their natural state and preserve them for future generations. The park honored on this month's coin is that kind of park too—so much so that “preserve” is part of its name.
But Denali National Park and Preserve is not only about future generations. Many Alaskans today use the land’s natural resources to stay alive, as their people have for 12,000 years or more. This is called “subsistence living.” Yes, even today, many Alaskans rely on Denali’s fish, animals, and other wild resources for food, shelter, clothing, transportation, handicrafts, and trade...basically, everything they need.
People learn how to find, harvest, store, and preserve what they need by observing and analyzing nature, then they teach what they discovered. Children in this culture learn at a very young age to avoid wasting resources. Alaska natives are careful to take only what is needed, to respect wildlife, and to avoid damaging the land without cause.
During the 20th century, developing industries like commercial fishing, mining, farming, military bases, and city growth made more demands on local resources. After Alaska gained statehood in 1959, the rural people began to ask government officials to protect their important way of life. Congress responded by passing the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).
ANILCA created millions of acres of new national parks and preserves in Alaska. Most of these allow residents to take part in decisions about how the land is developed and managed. ANILCA includes protections that allow both native and non-native Alaskans to live a subsistence way of life.
Visitors are another group of people who make use of Denali National Park and Preserve today. Wildlife viewing, mountaineering, and backpacking are popular activities, along with research in the natural sciences.
You can read more about this coin and the park! Click here for the Denali National Park and Preserve quarter page!