Why We Love the National Parks
Mar 31, 2017
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 more than 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, such as 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. 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. 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.
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. Switching to clean energy is another great way to protect our natural treasures—and luckily, you can sign up for clean energy and receive a free National Parks pass. Enjoy the magnificent natural beauties that we too often take for granted, and help protect them for generations to come.
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