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:
10. 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.
9. 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.
8. 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.
7. 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.
6. 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.