Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Importance of the National Park American Experience



When people ask me why I love hiking and the mountains, being a beach girl from the Caribbean, I always tell them “because we did not have national parks”.  Growing up in Puerto Rico, I lived closer to the beach than the mountains in the distance.  The concept of National Parks was something so “American” to me.  Yellowstone to me was home to Yogi Bear.  The Grand Tetons—a mountain range in the imagination.  One I would never experience… or so I thought.  The Badlands—a part of the US that seemed indomitable, like out of a sci-fi movie.  But all of them, beautiful.

It was not until this summer that I finally visited these iconic landmarks. And as I stood in these national parks seeing only but a fraction of the protected lands, I thought of the countless of people in the US who have never or will never have a chance to experience this.  Due to finances, time, or distance, many people cannot visit the national parks and monuments, and this is truly heartbreaking because there is so much that you get from a visit to the National Parks:

The world is your classroom.  For kids, a visit will open a world of knowledge about our natural resources, history, conservancy, and even civics.  Even as an adult, this was such an amazing experience.  Can you imagine for a kid who grows in the inner city who has never seen the exuberance of the natural world? I bet it would be mind blowing for them.  Thankfully there are programs like Open Outdoors for Kids, an initiative by the National Parks Foundation that brings kids closer to their national parks through various activities that capitalize on a kids’ curiosity and wonder.  And I for one love it.  these days kids are so disconnected.  They do not like to go outdoors, as we used to and they really do not understand the importance of our cultural heritage. 

A Sense of Urgency.  At a time when it seems that the current administration is determined to put profit before our natural resources, I felt a sense of urgency and alarm—that our natural patrimony will decrease as government continues to take aim especially at the monuments. Whether it is by contacting your representatives to supporting various conservancy organizations like the National Parks Conservation Association and National Parks Foundation, we have ways of letting our government where you stand.  Collectively, as a country, we must ensure our voices are heard on this matter. Which brings me to my next item. 

Conservancy.  Conservancy is so much more than a bunch of “crunchy” people trying to cause problems.  This view of conservationists is due in part to how little we truly explain about conservation efforts without getting emotional. Make no mistake, this is a very emotional topic to many of us, but if we are going to create a culture where conservation is a central part of the discussion, we need to start talking about it in practical terms.  Furthermore, we need to get the younger generations more involved so they grow up with a clear view of what these efforts accomplish, how to distinguish the scams, how to talk articulately about conservation and more.

National Pride.  Unfortunately, these days the words “national pride” have come to be associated with racism and supremacy.  But the true meaning I see behind these words is loving your country and what it has to offer.  As I stood looking at the magnificence of these parks and monuments, I felt a surge of pride and love. 




I remember standing on the shore of Lake Jackson and, smiling at my husband, quietly singing:


This land is your land, this land is my land; From the California to the New York island. From the Redwood Forest, to the gulf stream waters. This land was made for you and me”

Enjoy it! Yes, go out and enjoy these natural marvels as much as you can.  If you are able, do not make these visits a once in a lifetime event.  Go out, share your images with others and inspire them to go out and surround themselves with nature! The national parks and services get funding from the government but also depend on income from visits.  We are so blessed to have these amazingly varied public lands, so let’s support them and share them!










12 comments:

  1. This is a lovely post Angie and I so hope to get to some of the National Parks in the west. That is a dream of mine. I agree that National Pride is not about hatred or that only a small number of people have the right to be called Patriots. This country was founded on freedom and welcoming people from other countries. The only people who did not come from a line of immigrants are the native Americans. I have posted about how I feel about what is happening and all I can say is that America should be a welcoming place as immigrants have contributed so much to our culture....Michelle

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    1. Oh, I hope you do too. It is such an amazing experience! You gave me goosebumps with your words because they are so true.

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  2. Beautiful post! The national parks are indeed a treasture which we need to preserve and enjoy!

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    1. Thank you for the visit, Carol. Indeed preservation is as key as enjoying these treasures.

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  4. Wonderful post. I've been to many of the National Parks here in the US - and they are all experiences that I treasure.

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  5. So true! We are nothing without nature. Lovely shots.

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  6. I couldn't agree more!! I spend most of my time at Joshua Tree National Park, but visiting all the NPs is on my bucket list!

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  7. From one Angie to another, right on! What a coincidence that my latest post talks about national parks as part of the quintessential American summer experiences! We must have been in a mind-meld! Thanks for this inspiring post and call to action. (And thanks for your recent visit to my blog.)

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  8. Beautiful. I've been to quite a few State parks, not so many Nationals...but there is still time! Great photos.

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  9. I visited the Tetons as a teen. Wow! Your photos really capture the grander. My last visit to National Parks was in Utah. And we're going back for more next summer.

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