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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Sports >  Outdoors

National parks centennial gets first-class treatment on postage stamps

National parks will be featured in the mail this summer.

On June 2, the U.S. Postal Service will begin celebrating the National Park Service’s centennial just in time for summer vacation letter writing by issuing Forever Stamps depicting 16 parks.

The 16 national park stamps were selected to depict the variety among more than 400 sites in the National Park System.

They range from coastal shorelines to sky-scraping inland peaks plus deserts and aquatic gardens in between.

Among the featured parks are Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska, Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, Haleakalā National Park in Hawaii, Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, Arches National Park in Utah, Everglades National Park in Florida, Gulf Islands National Seashore in Florida and Mississippi, Acadia National Park in Maine, Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland and Virginia and Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C.

Each photograph chosen to depict one of the 16 parks has its own story. Each one entails a lot more than will meet the eye on a tiny 47-cent postage stamp.

Mount Rainier, for example, is represented by a star trail photograph composed of 200 images by Matt Dieterich of Pittsburgh.

The volcano that rises to 14,410-feet above sea level is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States and the source of six major rivers. Just below the ice, subalpine wildflower meadows ring the mountain above ancient forests on the lower slopes.

But it was the mountain in the light of the heavens that inspired Dieterich’s imagination.

He was at Mount Rainier as an intern with the National Park Service Geoscientist-in-the-Parks to educate the public on dramatic views of the stars and the effect of light pollution near highly populated areas.

“After working with visitors at the Mount Rainier astronomy program on June 22, 2015, I noticed there was an aurora, so I drove down to Reflection Lake to capture it,” he writes on the USPS website.

“The location was perfect as it contained a view of Mount Rainier and water for reflections. To create this star trails image, I took 200 photos in a two-hour window between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. with my Nikon D750 and 24mm lens set at F/1.4 and ISO 5000.

“Since the Earth is rotating, each 8-sec. exposure shows stars at slightly different locations. When the photos are combined into one image the stars create a circular pattern around the North Star, which is just out of view at the top of the image.

“The pink aurora spread throughout the background sky.

“Mountaineers can be seen with their white headlamps climbing Mount Rainier on the right side of the volcano.

“To capture star trails photos just like this, all you need is a digital single-lens reflex camera, a wide-angle lens, tripod and shutter-release cable.”

Dedication ceremonies will also take place at or near each of the National Parks depicted on the stamps.

Yellowstone National Park, the nation’s first, is being represented by a photo taken more than a decade ago of bison.

The chilling silhouette image was made by Seattle-based photographer Art Wolfe while he was documenting animals living in habitats across the world for his book entitled, “The Living Wild.”

While most of the parks are commemorated with images from independent photographers, four of the images in this 100th anniversary stamp series are from National Park Service art holdings.

Among them are the oil-on-canvas painting “Scenery in the Grand Tetons” by Albert Bierstadt and the three-masted, steel-hulled, square-rigged “Balclutha,” which is is a familiar sight at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.

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