Happy Earth Day
Today is Earth Day! It’s the perfect day to explore and appreciate our wonderful earth, and also, our great public lands. So let’s take a moment to talk about the national parks, and how we can all contribute to protecting these special places. After all, the parks are only getting more and more popular, drawing in bigger crowds each year, which brings increased risk of environmental degradation. It’s all of our responsibility to make sure our public lands stay in pristine condition. So here’s how we can!
Be A Good Visitor
On your next trip to a national park, remember to act in a manner that will “leave no trace.” This includes some obvious actions: don’t litter, don’t graffiti, don’t remove items, don’t disturb rock formations, etc. (Actually there are very big fines for graffitiing or toppling stones, so don’t.) But there are some other less common things you should know too, like it’s important to camp on the correct terrain. The National Park Service has this list of seven actions you should take or avoid when visiting public lands. Check it out so that you can be a good visitor.
Support the Parks
The national parks are federally funded. But sometimes those funds aren’t really enough to cover all the expenses (or pay for enough personnel) that a given park needs. That’s just the way it goes when there is a limited about of money allocated by Congress. But if you are able and willing, there is a lot you can do to help out. Almost all of the parks have volunteer programs that will put you to work beautifying the area, maintaining trails, or helping visitors. You can find out how to volunteer here on the official website. It’s a great way to care for what you love. Plus, if you work 250 hours, they’ll give you an annual pass to any national park for free. Just to say thanks.
If you want to see more land designated for public use, or want Congress to do more to protect the parks that already exist, you can support relevant legislation and vote for like-minded legislators. And you can petition for change now, by finding and supporting actions that will have big impacts on the protection of our national lands. For example, here is a group that is trying to stop the sale of single-use plastics in all national parks. (Which increases litter and waste removal expenses.) If you want to help on the largest scale possible, political action is the best way.
We at the Lodge at Red River Ranch love our national parks. (Especially the ones in Southern Utah, where we live.) We want to see them protected and preserved so that generations of visitors can continue to enjoy them. It doesn’t take much work from each of us to make sure we don’t negatively impact these lands. Mostly, we just need to be mindful of our actions. And if we want to help out a little more, we can lend a hand, or sign the occasional petition. Our national parks are great, and they’re doing great work, but we can make them even better. For everyone, everywhere.