It’s no secret that countries around the world have embraced certain cultures and ideas present in the United States, as the Pew Research Center reported in June 2012 in “Chapter 2. Attitudes Toward American Culture and Ideas,” which highlights more acceptance than rejection in recent years of everything American. And that is especially true when looking at the National Park Service, which was founded on Aug. 25, 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Organic Act of 1916 to establish a National Park Service.

After the establishment of the NPS, 100 years ago, more than 84 million acres have been preserved in 412 areas in all 50 states and the District of Columbia with over 20,000 employees. A century later, more than 100 nations now have subsequently established approximately 1,200 national parks or equivalent preserves, following in the United States’ footsteps. Thanks to this special act of preservation, countless future generations will be able to access some of the world’s most pristine natural regions.

In Ventura County, we boast one of six national parks that consist of islands, in the entire system. It’s quite astonishing the vast number of the 6 million people within a 75-mile radius of the islands, from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles Counties, who have not actually visited one of the most unique parks in the park service, given its eight islands, kelp forests, historical buildings, backstories and even the accomplishment of rehabilitating endangered species, including the island fox. Our national bird, the bald eagle, has also made a comeback after years of DDT devastation and after the nonnative golden eagle was transplanted back to the mainland.

The Channel Islands is somewhat of a newbie to the long list of preserved parks, given that it was not until 1980 that Congress established San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Barbara Islands and the submerged lands and waters within one nautical mile of each island as Channel Islands National Park. The flora and fauna on the islands are unusual, diverse and often rare, understandably good reasons why the area is known as the “Galapagos of California.” Local residents should feel privileged and take advantage of the opportunity that others have to travel thousands of miles to enjoy.

This year, as the National Park Service celebrates its centennial, make sure a visit to the Channel Islands is  priority. At least it will be one of the 412 parks checked off the list.

Celebration at Ventura Harbor

In celebration of the NPS’ 100th birthday, the Ventura Port District will host today, on Aug. 25,  25, from 5 to 10 p.m., an outdoor screening of a documentary about our own prized national park, the Channel Islands.

West of the West: Tales From California’s Channel Islands documents 13,000 years of human history on the Channel Islands, from the first island people to island ranching.