Writer and environmentalist Wallace Stegner once called the national parks "the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst." For over 100 years, the national park system has served as an incredibly valuable reminder of our commitment to preserving and protecting our environmental and cultural heritage.
The history of our national parks goes all the way back to President Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act of 1906, which gave the president the ability to declare historic landmarks as national monuments. Yosemite was the first, and in the following years many more federal lands in the West became national monuments. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson created the National Park Service, and now, the Bureau oversees over 84 million acres of wilderness.
The National Park Service is dedicated to protecting our environment in many ways. They work to protect and recover more than 480 threatened and endangered plant and animal species, like the endangered Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles in Padre Island National Seashore or the Grey Wolves recently reintroduced into Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. The National Parks Service also works to preserve billions of trees, which are our best defenses against climate change. Trees filter the air and water that we breathe and the water we drink, but unfortunately climate change is steadily having a negative impact on the national parks. For example, in Bandelier National Park drought brought on by higher temperatures has increased the mortality of the Pinion Pine and in Everglades National Park, increasing sea level is having a negative impact on mangrove trees, which are needed to filter out salt water and provide fresh water for valuable wetlands.
Still national parks serve as an important point of connection between humans and the natural world. These beautiful open spaces are an important reminder that humans exist within, not separate from, the trees and animals around us. They remind us that we are stewards of this big, beautiful planet we call home, and that it is our duty and responsibility to pass on a clean, healthy world to our children and our children's children.
The founding principle of the National Park System is to preserve our natural and cultural landscapes for generations to come. By connecting with the outdoors, we connect with our humanity. As Terry Tempest Williams once wrote, “Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.”
By choosing to use and support 100% wind and solar power, you are doing your part to eliminate your carbon footprint and ensuring clean air and water for generations to come. This month we honor the national parks and want to help you do the same. For each person you refer who successfully enrolls we’ll send you both $25. Plus, if you refer two or more people who successfully enroll in the month of April we’ll send you a national parks pass, so you can enjoy your wild, natural spaces for free.