National Parks Gallery
National Parks Gallery

Get Password

National Parks

Park News National Park News RSS Feed

Media Types
Web Cams

WHY ARE THERE NO BEARS IN ROCK CREEK PARK? The First Children’s Book about Rock Creek Park

Rock Creek Park

National Park News

Fort Washington, PA – The kick-off of National Park Week at Rock Creek Park began with ranger-lead horseback rides and hikes, planetarium programs and a Junior Ranger Turtle Hunt.  The beautiful weather on Saturday brought children and families by the droves to the Nature Center and Planetarium.

The release of the first children's book about Rock Creek Park, Why Are There No Bears In Rock Creek Park? was greeted with applause and cheers.  Roger Kennedy, the former director of the National Park Service was on-hand to herald the book and its well crafted message of conservation and exploration.  He proclaimed Rock Creek Park, as truly the first national park as viewed by President Washington, when he laid out plans for the federal city and intended these woodlands to remain wild. Genna Kules, a Junior Ranger and middle school student read the tale to more than 120 visitors, as children in the audience crowded around the nature center’s stage for story time.


The author, Park Ranger Dwight Madison and illustrators, Robert Hynes and Michele Foshee signed books and talked with visitors young and old throughout the afternoon.  The children were drawn to the "Could You Be A Rock Creek Bear?” interactive exhibits. Smiles and laughter filled the Nature Center.  The event was capped by the reception of bear-pleasing refreshments to engage all senses.


It was a day when children and families made memories and shared the values and benefits of conservation.  It was fun.


Eastern National proudly announced to kick-off National Park Week with the release of “Why Are There No Bears In Rock Creek Park?”  The book’s title and the story that follows was prompted by Rock Creek Park’s many young visitors, who upon visiting the 2,000-acre forest and seeing its many animals, often ask park rangers why they haven’t seen any bears. 


One hundred years ago, the natural areas throughout the country that we now enjoy as national parks were surrounded by rural fields, woodlands and wetlands.  At that time, wildlife thrived in habitats that stretched far beyond the park’s boundaries.  Today, our national parks are surrounded by fast-growing communities where resident and migratory wildlife populations are confined by urban and suburban boundaries. As our desire to live, work, and play in and near our national parks increases, we have inherited a new responsibility to safeguard the wildlife habitat that remains– for each is an oasis for animals, plants and people alike. How to respond to this new responsibility can be found in the pages of “Why Are There No Bears In Rock Creek Park?”


In his first children’s book, Madison responds to the question of “Why Are There No Bears In Rock Creek Park?” with a lyrical prose that unfolds as a fable.  In rhyming verse, Ranger Madison leads his young readers and their families, friends and teachers in a search for bears at Rock Creek Park.  After looking high and low, our Ranger, as narrator, continues our tale as he walks his young readers through the human behavior that slowly stripped away bear habitat at Rock Creek Park.  On their journey of discovery, readers are invited to see the fate of bears through the eyes of the park’s other animals.  This insightful rhyme concludes with a series of refrains to encourage model stewardship behavior that will safeguard wildlife and their habitat, as children are invited to experience the delight of Rock Creek Park’s woodlands. 


Robert Hynes and Michele Foshee bring this story to life with breathtaking color paintings that are rich with emotion of Rock Creek Park’s animals, plants and people.  The illustrators skillfully use Ranger Madison’s striking photographs of the park’s most visited sites to punctuate the design.  The combination of rhyme, illustration and design is stunning!


Remarkably, this is the first children’s book about Rock Creek Park. Throughout its 28 pages, readers are introduced to the park’s native animals, plants and trees.  The story’s setting highlights the broad dimensions of our nation’s oldest urban national park from the defining waters of Rock Creek to its forest, wetlands, meadows and historic structures. Based on universal themes of habitat loss and stewardship behavior, “Why Are There No Bears In Rock Creek Park?” is a 21st-century fable that children with their families, teachers and friends will delight in reading time and again.


At the release, Eastern National sold 110 books to families in the neighborhood and visitors from across the nation, many visitors with plans to donate copies to public libraries, conservation organizations and schools but always keeping one copy for themselves.  Since its Advance Release during the Cherry Blossom Festival more than 250 books have found an audience.


The publisher estimates that each child’s book will reach an average of ten readers—thus the fable about the bears of Rock Creek Park is being shared with over 2,500 readers with the potential to reach 20,000 readers in its first printing.  At its release, the first Rock Creek Park children’s book soared through the regional sales record by nearly three-fold.  The net proceeds from the sale of the book will help support the educational and interpretative programs of the National Park Service. 


The book launch was co-hosted by Eastern National and Rock Creek Park with the support of conservation partners including the Student Conservation Association, Rock Creek Park Volunteers, the National Park Service Junior Ranger and Web Ranger Program and Whole Foods Market.




Since the founding of Eastern National in 1947, the cooperating association has donated over $89 million to the National Park Service. Eastern National is a non-profit organization that provides quality educational products and services to the visitors to America’s national parks and other public trusts.  Eastern National operates educational outlets in 170 national parks and public lands in 30 states. For more information visit    



Rock Creek Park is the first national reserve managed as a national park.  The park and its tributaries preserve over 2,000 acres of plant and wildlife habitat providing protection for a variety of species within Washington, D.C.  Rock Creek Park is an urban oasis offering opportunities for refreshment and revitalization in one of the last remnants of wild scenic landscape in the nation’s capital. For more information visit


Ruby on RailsRuby: 1.8.7, Rails: 1.1.6