Most, if not all of us, have experienced the wonderful joy and peace which accompanies a stroll through our National or State Parks. It’s a pleasure that is hard to surpass. On August 25, 2016, the National Park Service will celebrate their 100th anniversary. It was in 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act, which was a bold experiment in setting aside America’s most spectacular wildlands for future generations.
As we prepare for this centennial celebration, however, some very real concerns face us. Parks are increasingly surrounded by development from logging, home construction, mining, and manufacturing and extraction industries, all of which are destructive to our parks. As climate disruption creates more droughts, and human consumption along with water abuse in nearby communities shrink the water supply, the parks are becoming more parched. As our world’s climate continues to change, our parks suffer the same effects as the rest of the planet; fire seasons are more severe, droughts persist longer, and food production dwindles. As coal plants and cars spew more pollution (including beyond the parks’ borders), the air quality is rapidly declining; air pollution masks spectacular views, poisons plants, and fouls the water sources. The care and maintenance of these parks is threatened because of reduced federal funding.
There are several ways to take action to save national parks. Emailing, writing or contacting your representatives in Congress will help (learn how to contact your representative and senator here). You can also support national parks with donations when you visit, or anytime online. When you visit a national park to hike or camp, respect the land by cleaning up after yourself, not picking flowers or other plants, and not feeding the animals. This will help ensure that parks can be enjoyed by all visitors for years to come.