National Park Service Goes Rogue, Draws 1 Million Fans to New Activism Twitter

The revolution will be tweeted.

The documentarian Ken Burns called the National Parks "America's best idea," but the new administration in Washington has less warm feelings about it. All accounts affiliated with the service were ordered to stop tweeting indefinitely when the official @NatlParkService account retweeted now-famous (and since deleted) images that compared the sizes of crowds for Trump and Obama inaugurations.

But the National Park Service — perhaps more commonly associated with a vacation destination for serene hikes amid pines and peaks, rather than with a symbol of resistance — would not be silenced.

Badlands National Park's verified account @BadlandsNPS account defied the gag order, and tweeted several facts about climate change that were later deleted. (The tweets apparently came from a former employee who retained credentials.) Naturally, they'd already been screengrabbed widely. The obvious play on words was #baddasslands, a hashtag in support of the gesture that itself trended on Twitter.

Soon followed tweets from Golden Gate National Park's verified account, which also shared chilling climate change data through its feed.

All the while, the park service — again, not exactly at Kim Kardashian's level when it comes to its pop-cultural appeal — was blowing up. It was trending on social media, and drawing praise from longstanding and new fans alike. Suddenly everyone was talking about national parks.

And that's when some anonymous folks behind the scenes decided to strike when the iron was hot: On Tuesday, they launched the account @AltNatParkSer, as a platform to speak openly to fans in an uncensored way, not officially affiliated with the government. In less than 48 hours, as of the time of this writing, it had already garnered more than 1 million followers.

The account's bio section describes the feed as, "The Unofficial 'Resistance' team of U.S. National Park Service. Not taxpayer subsidised! Come for rugged scenery, fossil beds, 89 million acres of landscape."

The platform is a place for its administrators to share both innocuous fan-friendly facts about the parks and nature, but also a way to promote resistance to threats to its future.

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