Every April the US National Park Service celebrates the beauty and diversity of its parks and monuments. For 101 years, the National Park Service has watched over some of our most exquisite natural and historical landmarks. The original parks and preserves to which the Service tend to, however, are much older than the agency that protects them. The first, Yellowstone National Park, was designated in 1872. By the time the National Park Service was created in 1916 under the Interior Department, thirty-five national parks and monuments were already in existence. Today, that number is over 400. The belief in safeguarding natural beauty has caught on internationally as well with over 1200 parks and preserves around the globe.
It is increasingly more important that we celebrate, protect, and cherish these national parks, preserves, and public lands. The Trump Administration has proposed to cut the Interior Department’s budget by twelve percent ($1.5 billion). This act alone is a clear attack on our nation’s environmental and cultural heritage. Likewise, the effects of climate change are negatively impacting these wilderness areas. Sea level rising in Everglades National Park, melting glaciers in Glacier National Park, and losing species in Rocky Mountain National Park are only a few of the major changes we are seeing in our national parks. We must work together to safeguard these areas. If we fail to, we will lose more than just the majesty of these landscapes. We will have lost our humanity as well.
There are dozens of organizations working tirelessly to protect and support our natural environments. The Alt National Park Service is the resistance to the Trump Administration’s attack on our environmental landmarks. The Conservation Fund and the Natural Resource Defense Council are two such organizations. Others like Outdoor Afro and Latino Outdoors work to increase accessibility to the outdoors for people of color. Education-based organizations like Outward Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School help participants to enhance their wilderness and leadership skills. These organizations and many others are vital in creating an environmentally aware populace. They connect people with the spires of Grand Tetons National Park, the biodiversity of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, and the tranquility of Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
The time to have your voice heard was yesterday. Today, you must act. Get involved with local politics. Contact your representatives and demand action. Work with local organizations and make changes in your community. Explore a National Park. Remember your connection to the natural places you call sacred to which we have a responsibility to preserve.
Jeromy Slaby | Founder
Organizations worth supporting, donating to, and volunteering or working for:
- Alt National Park Service
- Environmental Learning for Kids
- Global Coral Reef Alliance
- Green Latinos
- Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors
- Latino Outdoors
- National Outdoor Leadership School
- Natural Resource Defense Council
- Outdoor Afro
- Outward Bound
- Sierra Club
- The Conservation Fund
- Wildlife Conservation Society
- World Wildlife Fund
Photo by Author
Jeromy Slaby is the founder and project manager of Sonderers Magazine. He is also a freelance writer and photographer who specializes in travel and politics. He is currently working on receiving a BA in adventure education from Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. See more of his work here.