Are National Parks Thriving for the Right Reasons?

President Trump and many other influential people in the U.S are attacking the National Parks. Each park is an American commitment to preserving and protecting the natural world around us and a way to show people the importance of the natural world in our ever changing urban lives.

The national park system was established in 1916, this has led to 59 current national parks in 27 states and 2 territories as well as 154 national forests. The current administration has threatened to cut funding and re-evaluate protected lands under the Antiquities Act which originally gave the president the right to declare any place protected. This could be a big change but the national parks are fighting back.

In the last year, parks estimate that the attendance of the national parks as a whole has risen almost 28%. This means that even though money has been cut from the department of the interior and the national parks more and more people have chosen to put America first and explore our national parks.

The issue with this is that the park rangers and staff at the parks continue to struggle with overcrowding and funding being cut to necessary services that are required to keep the parks running. People expect the national parks to be there for their convenience, like Disney World.

Many people travel to the national parks to sit in a car or a hotel room and say that they have been somewhere. A park ranger asked me, “if you were nature what would you want to tell humans” and it made me think. Treating nature as something that is good on its own and not a commodity is what is best for the conservation of the park.

Preservation is easier than restoration.

At one of the stops in Yellowstone, I heard a family ask the park ranger what the names of the elk were. People do not see the natural parks as a beautiful tranquil place but rather a thing created for their pleasure, something to look at and get something out of.

We need to teach people from a young age the importance of nature and the relationship that humans have with the environment around us. Teach people that the natural earth should be funded and protected as a being, not an asset. Call senators and representatives in congress and tell them to fund the national parks and the people working hard to keep them safe and beautiful.

Even though the national parks are thriving, there is a distinct mindset that needs to be changed for future generations. As a collective, America needs to recognize that these parks are the future that we want for our country, not a temporary installment for our immediate amusement. I urge you to visit your local park and witness the wonders yourself or donate to a non-profit sponsor to help preserve and respect the natural beauty of our national parks.

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Dominique Maderal
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Dominique Maderal is from Arlington, VA currently studying engineering at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She works with survivors of sexual assault and is a facilitator in high schools about the topic. Follow her on social media at dom_madz.

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