Dear Future President,
I am writing you to discuss an issue that I am very passionate about... the national parks of our country. The National Park Service is a very important part of this country’s past, it’s present, and it’s future. By preserving these natural phenomenons, we save the most unique places in this country for all Americans to enjoy, and we preserve it for the future generations. At first glance, people might think that the National Park Service is a way to preserve some trees and lakes, but upon further inspection it is obvious the value that the parks provide this Nation. This country has over 400 National Park sites that cover nearly 84 million acres. In 2015, about 307 million people visited them. Ultimately what is at stake here is the founding ideals of this country represented in one system which provides a wonderful experience for all of those who visit. The parks were founded on the ideals of preservation, and bringing the people of this country together. Clearly the national parks are following their founding ideals by allowing the people to enjoy the parks, yet they are in danger. They are underfunded, understaffed, and people are posing a threat to the wonderful things that are being protected. The government needs to help the National Park Service by making the improvements necessary in order to properly provide what the national parks truly have to offer.
First of all, mining poses a threat to the preservation of our national parks. With a chance to make some profits, mining companies are filing claims dangerously close to the borders of many national parks out West. The National Park Service was founded on the ideals that they will preserve the special parts of this country, and that they will make it open to the public to enjoy. However, if mining occurs in or near the national parks, those ideals will be at risk. Mining hurts the landscape being preserved, pollutes the area, and creates an unfriendly environment for park visitors. This will take away the experience that visitors get when they visit these parks. An article by Dusty Howitt from the database “Opposing Viewpoints in Context” titled “Uranium Mining Threatens National Parks” says “Without changes to the law, global demand for minerals could easily result in situations where companies begin prospecting and developing mining claims right next to incomparable wonders like the Grand Canyon, other national parks and wilderness areas, or even local water supplies” (Horwitt). Mining could cause damage to the landscape that makes our national parks special. By allowing mining claims near these national parks, it could damage what people think of the National Park Service, which would in turn hurt the tourism and jobs by that park. No one is going to want to visit a park that is worn down, dirty, and its natural landscape altered. This was NOT what national parks were founded to do. The national parks have a very specific image that they need to contain, and if they allow this mining to happen outside the park, then what is to stop them from eventually moving into the parks? They need to set the standard early so greedy mining companies don’t take away from the parks. The article continues, “Without proper safeguards for our public lands, protecting national parks from these claims can be very costly...”(Horwitt). The National Park Service needs to be strict with these claims, because if they let a few slip through, then everything will change. Of course, the mining companies will disagree on the grounds that they are allowed to mine outside the park’s boundaries because it is not under the protection of the National Park Service. While this is true, it does not necessarily mean that is the right thing to do. Mining outside the park could still cause the environment of the park to suffer, as simple things such as wildlife might be hurt. Not to mention that the mining nearby could destroy the isolation that the parks’ provide. If this were to happen, the image of the national parks would suffer. This would inevitably lead to the loss of beauty and tourism in the national parks. The national parks provide an invaluable representation of what this country stands for and that can not be changed. The Federal Government has to realize how important the national parks are, and that is why it is crucial that they stop these mining claims before they can do any damage. By stopping these claims, the government preserves not only the parks but the idea of preservation for the people.
Furthermore, the national parks are confronted with negative views based on the lack of diversity within the parks. As our country becomes increasingly diverse, issues arise, even in simple things such as the national parks. People in poverty struck regions are unlikely to ever see a park, and only certain Americans ever travel to the parks. An article by Robert Garcia from the National Recreation and Parks Association titled, “Everyone in a National Park” states “The barriers are many: Parks are located far from where most people live, and there's a lack of transportation, a fear of discrimination, lack of diverse park staff, lack of experience in parks, communication challenges and simply a feeling of not being welcomed” (Garcia). Due to the park’s isolation from large populations of people, a large part of the nation’s population that will never see a National Park. They will never have the wonderful experience that a visit to the parks provides. Not only will they never see a park, they may not even know that they exist. In addition to that, the parks are lacking in diversity. This creates an unwelcome feeling in the parks for many people, leading to the true ideals of the national parks being hid behind racial tension. The article states, “NPS has a diversity problem and, to its credit, recognizes this. NPS has made significant strides at the policy level under President Obama.” There is clearly racial tensions in our national parks, and this has to be solved. President Obama supported this movement, and large advances were made. “His Every Kid in a Park (EKIAP) initiative provides all fourth graders and their families with free admission to national parks, recreation areas and monuments, and includes transportation grants for schools in the most underserved communities.” President Obama did a lot to promote diversity in the parks, but there is still a long way to go. These programs need to continue and we need a leader who will make this happen. As our country advances, America is becoming more and more diverse. The national parks need to become more accessible a larger variety of people in order for the parks to remain successful in the future. They will be able to solve this problem with support from a higher level of government, as they could have more funds to hire a more diverse staff, promote the national parks in new ways and make the park more accessible to the community. Many people will object this plan, questioning whether all of this would really solve any problems. Would promoting diversity even produce more visitors? Do these people even care about the national parks? I understand where they are coming from, however I still believe that the future of the national parks is dependent on this. By making the parks more accessible to the many Americans who currently can’t get there, we would promote a new generation of people who would support the parks. If they don’t care about the national parks, they clearly have never been to one. The national parks represent the many wonderful things our country is about, and the people unable to reach the parks should learn that. If they were to go to one of the parks, they would have a better understanding about this country. This would benefit their lives and the national parks. If the government supported the National Park Service’s attempt to reach out to these communities, then the problem toward inequality in our parks could be solved and a better future for the national parks would be secured.
Above all, the national parks are at risk due to the issue of underfunding. Due to the large amounts of visitors to the national parks each year, they are becoming more difficult to manage. The large amount of tourists are causing many problems, an article written by Daniel Dustin from the NPRA titled, “ The National Parks: America's best idea?“ writes “Costs, as well as benefits, flowing from the public's enjoyment of their national parks became increasingly evident and management issues throughout the system took a variety of forms, including automobile congestion, air pollution, snowmobile controversies and overflights in the Grand Canyon” (Dustin). The tourists flooding into our national parks are causing a problem that they are not capable of handling with their current funds. They are severely underfunded, and many people are unaware of this problem. People are unfamiliar of what it takes to manage a park, and the public is generally ignorant of this underfunding. Solving these issues would be as simple as an increase of money going to the National Park Service. With more money, they could hire more staff and put money towards fixing the issues that are damaging the parks. Yet many people may challenge my view by insisting that it would be a waste of Federal Government spending, and that the money could go toward other projects and programs. On the one hand, I agree with this viewpoint that there are many problems that this country has to fix. But on the other hand, I still insist that the national parks are vital to American society. Our society is advancing. We are destroying so much, and we can’t let the National Park Service be on that list. Once we lose something in the parks, we can’t get it back. If you cut down a forest and build a strip mall, there is nothing you can do to save that forest. Not only is preserving the parks a way to save some of nature’s best work, it preserves America. If we let the country destroy the parks, we are setting an example for the government to destroy everything it originally stood for. We are preserving the parks now so future generations can enjoy them, but we are also preserving America’s founding ideals for the future to live off of. Continuing the National Park service is a way to grow our country. Dustin concludes, “It is perhaps best if we think of the NPS, just like our country, as a work in progress. It is in the process of becoming a better organization in the same way we are in the process of becoming a better country” (Dustin). These parks have been a work in progress ever since the first park, Yellowstone National Park, was established in 1872. They have been improving as time goes on, but that is because the government allowed it to happen. Many past Presidents has allowed the parks to grow, which has helped America preserve her founding ideals. If the U.S. doesn’t believe in this system, then America will watch it wither away, and soon will it’s ideals. In order to preserve everything the parks stand for, it is essential that the government supports this system. America’s future depends on it.
From the threat of mining, inequality, and the threat of the parks dying, the National Park Service desperately needs some improvements. The parks have been described by many as “America’s Best Idea”, and it needs to remain that way. This system is going to fail if the government doesn’t help. Something has to be done, the earlier the better. You, the President of the United States, need to support and push through these laws and funds to support our national parks. Mining has to stop, the parks need to be open to a new group of people, and funding has to increase. If you are able to do this, than our national parks will flourish, and obvious changes will occur. People will respect this country if you preserve these gifts, and people will respect a President who does this. A truly wonderful part of this country is at risk, and if you don’t do something soon, America will let something amazing die.
Dustin, Daniel L., et al. "The National Parks: America's best idea?" Parks & Recreation Aug. 2016: 44+. Student Edition. Web. 18 Oct. 2016. http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=STOM&sw=w&u=lom_accessmich&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CA462043937&it=r&asid=0e0735fc1328764109fcdae6f7f48a15
Garcia, Robert, and Cesar De La Vega. "Everyone in a National Park." Parks & Recreation Aug. 2016: 34+. Student Edition. Web. 18 Oct. 2016. http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=STOM&sw=w&u=lom_accessmich&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CA462043934&it=r&asid=19f58c5382742c8fc1fd50beaf728b1c
Horwitt, Dusty. "Uranium Mining Threatens National Parks." Uranium Mining. Ed. Tamara Thompson. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2010. At Issue. Rpt. from "Statement of Dusty Horwitt, JD: Public Lands Analyst, Environmental Working Group." Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. 2007. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.