Top 10 Reasons National Parks Should Be Protected by the Federal Government
America’s national parks are arguably one of its greatest national treasures. The parks provided a variety of benefits to the American public and to the American landscape. Unlike other attractions, national parks are egalitarian. A park does not dictate how you use it, and it does not require visitors to offer up skills or money. Anyone can visit one of America’s national parks for free or in exchange for a small fee.
Despite all of these parks, the country’s national parks are under threat, and despite long standing management by a dedicated service, the parks are in perpetual danger of partial or total destruction by negative forces and even by the people who love them.
Thus, American national parks must remain protected by the federal government. Once destroyed, the history, heritage and ecosystems cannot simply be rebuilt. If the parks were unprotected, America would see irreversible destruction that it would regret for centuries to come. Here are the top 10 reasons national parks should be protected by the federal government:
National Parks Protect Biodiversity
The earth itself is humankind’s most precious resource. We only get one chance to use it right, and we can be certain that there are no second chances if we make too many fatal mistakes when it comes to preserving the land.
Protecting biodiversity is an essential part of working to protect our home. Biodiversity is something that has been created over the billions of years of life on this planet. It is the process that created a space for humans on the planet, and it helped ensure that the conditions were right for humans not only to survive, but to thrive.
Biodiversity is under threat, however, and a lot of this is the result of our own activity. We destroy biodiversity by building cities and expanding those cities into suburbs, and we destroy biodiversity by polluting the air, by moving species out of their natural habitats and by exploiting natural resources.
The result has thus far been the extinction of tens of thousands of animals across the biosphere. While most humans do not see the importance of the loss of a bird, there is a huge importance to the entire world that we live in. Each individual species has a role to play in biodiversity, including us.
National parks help protect biodiversity by providing refuge for the things that are too often destroyed by human presence. The parks help humans protect each other from themselves. However, in order for the parks to continue to serve in this capacity, someone needs to step up and ensure the parks themselves remain protected. That someone should be the federal government.
National Parks Provide Leisure and Enjoyment
National parks provide a unique opportunity for Americans and visitors alike to experience vast expanses of the great outdoors. They also provide access to a striking number of activities, none of which happen to require mobile Internet.
American parks need to be protected because they remain one of the few places that Americans have left to truly experience nature in an enjoyable and diverse manner. They showcase the best of nature before industrialization deformed our natural landscape.
National parks are a great way not only to escape to the peacefulness of nature, but to see nature in its true element. Depending on the park, visitors can see hundreds, even thousands of different types of wildlife. From the bears of Yellowstone to the native salmon of Olympic National Park, visitors of all ages can interact with or stay away from animals from all walks of life.
The thing about nature is that it provides many different leisure activities all on its own. Outside of taking a moment to breathe in the crisp air, visitors can also take part in some human based activities. Some of the land activities that visitors can take part in include cross country skiing, hiking, snow shoeing and outdoor games. They can even take part in cycling and mountain biking depending on the park.
Parks that offer access to clean water allow people the chance to swim, kayak and canoe in a safe environment. It is a chance for people to feel what it is like to glide through water that is not chlorinated or heavily polluted.
However, the National Park Service has also been keen to create opportunities for leisure activities for visitors. For example, Shenandoah National Park created a Kids In Parks trail designed for small children to be able to explore the park on foot.
The national parks also offer camping opportunities that allow people to experience the great outdoors in a very real way.
Many of the activities listed are offered almost exclusively by the national parks. Protecting the parks would mean protecting valuable activities that provide immeasurable fun for Americans and visitors.
National Parks Are Good for Our Health
For 100 years, America’s national parks have worked to provide places that do not only preserve history but also enrich lives. This enrichment is not only cultural, it can be physical and spiritual as well.
The parks’ ability to provide enrichment in people’s lives is not solely based on the space it offers. The people behind the parks have worked to ensure that the parks contribute to American health as well.
In 2011, the National Park Service launched its Healthy Parks Healthy People US project. The goal of this program was to transform the park from simply being a recreational or cultural space and instead focus on being a space that intentionally empowered a national health strategy.
The program does not just offer opportunities at national parks. It also provides resources for state and local parks. Together with scientists, healthcare leaders, advocacy organizations and business innovators, the National Park Service works to use its resources to change the way that Americans make choices about their lifestyle
At a time where an unprecedented number of Americans are suffering physically or mentally, the country needs national parks more than ever. Through its service, the parks allow people access to healthy experiences and forge important partnerships in the community all in the name of greater health.
The national park system could not be at the center of this program without the help of the federal government. Therefore, it must be protected.
National Parks Are Centers of Learning
The national park system provides valuable contributions to America’s education system. In addition to teaching students more about the environment, the parks offer field experiences, classroom materials and opportunities for professional development for students of all ages and backgrounds.
However, students do not need to travel to one of the parks to take part in the learning that is offered. The parks also offer materials for loan by educators. These materials, such as travelling trunks, can be brought directly into the classroom to be used as valuable tools for teaching elementary students about subjects such as science, social studies, math and even literacy and language arts.
The park service also offers distance learning opportunities that allow students of all ages to explore their country without the need to leave the classroom. The service runs programs that introduce students to the wider world around them. Students can use these distance learning opportunities to go whale watching or join a park ranger on a virtual boat trip in Glacier Bay, among others.
Students can also take part in question and answer sessions with park rangers right from their classroom. These sessions can include questions on flora, fauna and even the history of the parks.
Teachers can also use the national park system as a way to teach students about important periods in American history, such as the Great Depression. Students can use this opportunity to not only explore history but to see the lasting impact their ancestor’s decisions had on shaping the America that they live in today.
All of these amazing resources are offered by the National Park Service. Without the protection of the federal government, one can be certain that all of these amazing educational opportunities would likely disappear.
National Parks Protect the Nation’s National Heritage
Crazy Horse Image Credit. The national heritage of America spans beyond Native American sites and the old fortifications built by the Spaniards. In fact, national heritage also includes the nation’s natural heritage.
The natural landscape has existed since before there were people around to observe it. The stunning landscapes, beautiful forests and impressive natural formations are important parts of the country’s heritage. Protecting these things should be considered part of the country’s value. The best way to do this is to continue to preserve it through the national park system.
National Parks Promote Tourism
The national park system is a vital part of the American tourism strategy because it helps make America unique as an international destination. This is a world where competitiveness in the global tourism market is constantly increasing. The U.S. needs to use every asset at its disposal to help to continue to draw record numbers of tourists every year.
Travel and tourism are an essential part of the wider American economy. In 2011 alone, 62 million international visitors travelled to the United States. These visitors help to bolster the nation’s travel and tourism industry and also brought in $1.2 trillion in revenue.
These visitors come to the U.S. to see the iconic symbols that are recognized around the world. The Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty and Yosemite are all huge draws for tourists because they are items that cannot be found in any other country in the world.
The amount of money that tourists spend on visiting these areas is extremely powerful, and tourists spent $62 billion on recreation around national park areas in 2010 alone.
This money went to local businesses in the small towns surrounding these areas as tourists enjoyed accommodation, dining, entertainment and retail experiences that are unique to these individual spaces.
This money was not dissolved. Instead, it helped support 612,000 jobs which in turned supported the local, regional and national economies in the United States.
The United States makes a point of strategically supporting tourism because it is such an important part of the economy. In turn, the federal government should protect national parks as a part of this initiative.
National Parks Might Otherwise Be Destroyed by Industry
Not everyone views the park system as a national treasure. In fact, some view the system as the enemy. Some industries, such as the oil industry, would like to see national parks defunded. They would also like to see the land to be sold to the highest bidder.
The Property and Environment Research Center insists that the national parks are a burden on the government. It believes that the government cannot properly take care of the parks in a way that is beneficial for both the park system and the government. Thus, it suggests that the government should sell off the land to interests who have the resources to take care of it.
These buyers would primarily be private buyers. Unfortunately, these private buyers may also not have altruistic intentions for the land. This is because some of those who have the resources to take care of the land also have a lot of incentive to destroy it.
To illustrate this problem, it is important to look behind the source of this information. The Property and Environment Research Center is funded partly by the Koch brothers and by ExxonMobil. Both groups have poor track records of preserving the land already in their possession. Both also have reasons to manipulate previously protected land for their own gain.
The fossil fuels and mining industries are afraid of missing out land that may have resources. They do not believe that land with this kind of potential should be protected, regardless of the beauty it holds.
As long as it is protected by the government, the land in the national parks can remain neutral and a testament to time. However, should the federal government waiver and fail to protect the parks, places like Yosemite could wind up as barren as the landscape of Northern Texas.
National Parks Might Be Destroyed by Foreign Invaders
National parks face many threats. Some threats are human and others are natural. Regardless of the origin, these parks rely on the help of conversation funded by the federal government to remain alive.
Every creature, plant or bacteria has a place on the planet where it is designed to live. It is where the organism is best suited to live a long and happy life while supporting the blossoming of its own ecosystem.
Sometimes, an event occurs that disturbs that organism in its natural habitat. Sometimes this event is human led and other times, it is natural. However, if that organism is disturbed and redistributed, it is often led away from its home and to an alien environment.
The species that are removed from their homes and placed elsewhere are known as nonnative species. While some are benign, others can do serious damage to its new ecosystem. These foreign invaders are one of the biggest natural threats to national parks.
The problem is that every ecosystem has a way of keeping populations of plants, animals, fungi and bacteria in check. When a foreign invader enters the ecosystem, there is no way for its population to be kept down. The result is often a population boom of the alien species. This can impact the rest of the ecosystem by destroying resources or even directly killing other essential parts of the ecosystem.
Removing these alien threats from parks is difficult, expensive and time consuming work. It is work that cannot be done without the help of the federal government. Should the government want to see its national park legacy live on for another generation, it must continue to fund and protect the parks.
National Parks Are Under Threat from Climate Change
Climate change is a hot topic. It concerns everyone who lives on this planet without exception. However, some of the first victims of climate change are not people. It is actually the American national parks that are taking the biggest and most visible beating right now.
Research has found that most of the national parks in America have already experienced damage from the extreme climate change that has taken place over the last few decades.
Right now, parks are facing extremely warm temperatures. These temperatures are damaging for the parks because it is simply too warm for the park’s biosphere to survive. When combined with a lack of precipitation in parks like the Mojave National Preserve and the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, this heat is dangerous for the whole landscape.
Unfortunately, there are no signs that this damage will slow anytime soon unless steps are taken to protect the parks from global warming.
However, not all is lost. Because the parks have seen such persistent study over the past century, there is a huge wealth of data to use to help manage the changing conditions of the park. This information can be used by both local authorities and the national government to help protect the national parks.
Of course, protecting the parks from climate change is easier said than done. It requires the government to step up and protect the earth from climate change. A win for the earth is a win for the parks and a win for both is a win for people. Thus, protecting the parks from climate change is a step towards protecting citizens. After all, that is what the government is designed to do.
National Parks Can Become a Part of America’s Future
The national park system may be a relatively new idea for the world. However, it has so far been an incredibly positive one. The benefits of the national park system range from spiritual benefits to preserving different biospheres across the country.
Despite these efforts, the national park system is perpetually in danger. It faces advisories in industry, climate change and even in the government itself. However, this is only a small part of the reason that the parks must be protected.
The national park system has always looked to the future. In fact, the very nature of the national parks program was oriented not in today but in tomorrow. This is because the people who created these parks knew what important roles the parks would have to play in the 20th century. Indeed, the parks can continue to play a role in the 21st century as well, if we let them.
Thankfully, the stewards of the parks are already thinking towards the future. In fact, the National Park Service has already set forward a plan to help keep the parks an important part of life throughout this century. Over the next 85 years, the National Park Service promises to:
- Focus on education and build pathways for learning
- Bring the history of America to life
- Protect nature and by extension, the people who inhabit it
- Pursue sustainability and begin to teach it the community
- Nurture both cultures and communities
- Continue to promote outdoor recreation
All of these things will be impossibly important in the future. The federal government can help make the future a more hospitable place by protecting the parks today.
The National Park Service is a valuable part of American culture. It is one of the few things that humans have created the truly serves to protect both environmental and human interests. Because of this, it is imperative that the national parks and the parks’ stewards receive the credit due to them for performing this important work.
The best way to reward the parks is for the federal government to continue to protect them. By protecting the parks, the government is simultaneously protecting American heritage, culture and ultimately, American lives. America has only once chance to continue to preserve these valuable lands. Should it choose to give this opportunity up, it could be lost forever.
The national parks of the United States have provided a pathway from the 20th century to the 21st century. With the help of the United States federal government, the parks can continue to guide those who them most not only through today but into tomorrow.