Thursday, August 22, 2013

Supporting the Idea and Reality of National Parks

"God never made an ugly landscape. All that the suns shines on is beautiful, so long as it is wild." -John Muir

I love wilderness and public lands. They inspire me, and I know I'm not alone. I believe they are needed for natural, historical, spiritual, and recreational reasons. Yet when economics rules the day in Washington it seems federal lands and National Parks are an easy target for cuts despite their known economic impacts for the regions based on tourism, etc. Instead, it seems that many would rather mine out the resources for a short term gain despite long-term loss. And it would be long term loss. Natural and wild lands don't just pop back up overnight, whether it is the deforestation of the rain forest in South America, pollution along seashores and in marshes, mining and development on or immediately next to National Parks, or even impact on wildlife like use of lead in bullets (while all other lead use has pretty much been phased out due to its known toxicity) leading to the near extinction of California condors (even impacting and killing many a bald eagle - how ironic?). Surely, we can continue to pump millions of dollars into subsidies for oil companies, banks, or defense contractors, but not into National Parks.

California Condor soaring over the Grand Canyon
I don't write too often about so-called political issues but this is one that I value highly because it is not something easily reversed. In fact, this year even visitors to many National Parks or Monuments faced closed features or lack of resources due to sequestration cuts. There is little that is so clearly proven that draws visitors and supports or expands business in their regions. But don't take my word for it: check out this report.

The infographic below was also interesting and shows just what the National Park Service is facing financially these days. All I know is that I truly hope we as Americans are smart enough to give space (wonderful, plentiful space) to our natural and historical treasures to ensure that generations upon generations may appreciate them in just the same manner.

Zion, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Grand Tetons, Mesa Verde, Yellowstone, Bryce Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Great Smoky Mountains, Gettysburg, Manzanar, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Carlsbad Caverns, Vermillion Cliffs, and more are some of the parks and monuments I've already been fortunate enough to see which inspire and rejuvenate. All of these must be preserved for future generations, without having to deal with further air, water, light, or noise pollution. The crowds and impacts in the region must be managed in a way that prevents destruction or degradation at the park while maximizing the benefit for those visiting and using. This balance requires funding - but it is a funding that is America's Best Idea.

  National Parks Need Help - NPCA Infographic

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