Respect the Shut Down of National Parks.

I've seen a lot of comments in social media and park news sites having to do with how silly it is that the government can shut down nature with the closing of the National parks, of how does the government think it can close an entire mountain (it's nature, after all, here long before the US was a Nation)...and honestly those comments are reductionistic and selfish.

The reality is that the park system was established to preserve and protect these treasures because WE THE PEOPLE were not doing a good job of doing this without management. Places like Yellowstone and Petrified Forest were having its resources looted, whether just piece-by-piece for souvenirs or those doing a whole lot more. Species became endangered through our actions. Vandalism, poaching, and unregulated human use trashed whole areas of these natural wonders. Its why President Teddy Trails have to be maintained when millions of people walk the same small length of nature in viewing the Grand Canyon. Buildings & Battlefields of importance in American History are preserved. The National Parks are America's Best Idea which most other nations in the world are trying to emulate (an area we are actually exceptional or genuinely a world-leader!).

Petrified Wood which remains in the park.
Would unregulated nature perhaps be OK if everyone was responsible and lived by the Leave No Trace mantra of those who are outdoors enthusiast? Perhaps. But here's the fact - We Don't.  We have proven that time and again. Even recently people are carving their names in rocks covered in ancient petroglyphs, chipping initials &  hearts into the wood of sequoias or redwood trees, actually tagging Saguaro cacti with graffiti in the middle of the National Park near Tucson. Zion National Park until recently saw tons of traffic jams because there is one road in and out, so they recognized and implemented a shuttle system to improve the ability to enjoy Nature. These are just off the top of my head, and I am sure there are many more examples. Go look at our history of park overuse and abuse. My point is merely that those natural places which exist and grab our hearts and minds and become the destinations for millions of people annually in their pilgrimages, road trips, and recreational weekends MUST be managed to ensure this visitation and use do not destroy the very thing that is coming to be enjoyed. This was something that was seen during the exploration and expansion of the Western United States in the 19th century and into the industrialization of the early 20th century, leading American leaders, from President Benjamin Harrison through President Theodore Roosevelt to begin to protect, preserve, and manage these sites.

The nature found within National Park Boundaries are natural and cultural treasures which millions of people per year visit, and to which millions of more in future generations have every RIGHT to visit as well. Without protection, these lands were encroached upon by development and industry. With protection nature has an advocate. This is the point of the National Park Service, from visitation to preservation and conservation. Species of plants and animals to be studied and habitats preserved (no one really cheers for the extinction of a species).

For those who think that its ridiculous to shut down a piece of nature, and that they should be able to visit it if they want...just remember the world doesn't revolve around you. It revolves around the sheer number of people who want to visit these treasures, and that this requires management of the resources and access. The park service actually exists because it recognizes the rights of people to enjoy the places it protects. It knows you have the right to visit them, longs for you to visit, wants to educate and enhance the visit as best they can, but so do future generations. Lets not get entitled and forget that yes, there are reasons why there is government control. If its not Federal, its State. If not State, its County or City parks. Spaces where people gather or go to in nature must be regulated, as we humans have shown that without it we pretty much can destroy anything out of not thinking through our actions. Many of us respect nature and do our best to leave no trace, many have no regard to do so, and many others of us simply are unaware of how our actions actually impact the environment.

The point is that in a society that allows people to buy land, build, mine, forest, or otherwise utilize the natural resources as if they own it and profit off of it, then the park system is the only thing protecting the people from losing access and possession of the parks. When the unfortunate political reality leaks over into our access to the parks, it is not because government is too big (in this particular case!). Rather, its just unfortunate that what really is dividing the country can impact one of the few ideas which actually unites and celebrates who we are as a nation. Instead of just clamoring how stupid it is that the government thinks it can stop you from visiting a canyon, mountain, or seashore, remember that those ideas are the very reason the park service is needed to protect these treasures for all humanity! Instead of declaring you want to see them stop you from visiting, take that energy and put it towards influencing government officials to actually do their job.

We can all use a little more unity these days.