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Google marks National Park Service's centennial with virtual tour

Animated doodle takes us on a tour of some of the natural beauty that has been set aside for our enjoyment in the past 100 years.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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On this date in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the National Park Service Organic Act, which mandated the creation of the National Park Service "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife" found inside the United States and make them available for public enjoyment.

To celebrate the centennial of the service, Google has created an animated doodle that takes viewers on a virtual coast-to-coast tour of some of the sites and sounds that can be found on the 84 million acres of land designated as protected since the agency's creation.

Starting with a collection of iron-on souvenir park patches, Google shows us the various wildlife that can found in some of the system's 59 national parks and monuments, including tortoises, moose and egrets. We are also treated to the awe-inspiring beauty of the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Devils Tower.

Shelton Johnson, a park ranger at Yosemite National Park and published author, shared his thoughts on this important milestone.

"No longer were rivers a force to be dammed, virgin forests a source for board-feet, or mountainsides blasted for gemstones or coal," Johnson told Google. "The idea of parks has the power to transcend culture, a currency whose value speaks of something profoundly human."