One of the nation’s greatest treasure is not found in some museum, or stashed away in a vault, our greatest treasure resides in our National Parks. Every year, millions of people visit these national monuments so as to experience the grandeur that has captivated the public for generations. Yet how did our National Parks come to be? Who decides what can be considered a National Park? I hope this post, as well as some of the photos I have taken, will shed some light on the topic.
The history of National Parks begins with the famous rough rider himself, President Theodore Roosevelt. After many years of desecration of Native American sites, President Roosevelt, along with several members of Congress, helped craft legislation which became known as the Antiquities Act of 1906. This law allowed the President, or Congress, to designate, and protect, Federal lands from destruction. With this law’s passage, President Roosevelt was able to designate numerous landmarks as federally protected sites that could be used for the public’s best interest. Some notable examples of this include the Grand Canyon, Devil’s Tower, the Petrified Forest, and many others.
Throughout the years, President’s have added other monuments to the list so as to protect, and preserve, national monuments for future generations to enjoy. I myself had the pleasure to visit places such as the Grand Canyon, the Badlands, Yellowstone National Park, and the Devils Tower to name a few. However, a new challenge is beginning to emerge that could impact visitors access to these monuments. With the recent budget cuts, coupled with fee increases at National Parks, visitors could soon phase out a portion of the population who are unable to pay to see these treasures. In addition, the most recent push from the Trump Administration would allow oil drilling on public lands. One of these changes involves the review of the 9B rules set forth to private companies who extract minerals from public lands. The revised 2016 9B rules demand that the National Park Service force companies to comply with safety standards, raises the amount of funds companies pay to ensure that oil wells on public lands are capped, if they should be abandoned. Finally the 9B rules set forth that companies pay a fee to use public lands for business purposes. What would be the outcome of this review? Current Secretary of Interior, Ryan Zinke, could suspend, revise, or rescind these rules as the Administration sees fit. As a result, public lands could soon be exploited for their abundant natural resources.
Not only are national monuments threatened by the removal of the 9B rules but it removes a cornerstone for protecting our National Parks. Countless individuals before us had the foresight to protect these national treasures so that when they left this world, future generations would be able to enjoy these monuments. President Trump, and Secretary Zinke, need to understand that our national monuments are not a business opportunity for exploitation but a sacred duty to preserve the nation’s monuments so that future generations can experience the beauty of the American homeland.
If you are as concerned by these actions then now is the time to speak up. The most important way to help is to contact your elected representatives and tell them that you do not agree with the current Administration’s decision to allow these changes to National Parks. Another way to help is to get involved with advocacy! There are several organizations who can help you get started including The National Parks Conservation Association, The National Park Foundation, The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, and many more. What is important is that you get involved to make your voice heard. Divided we are weak, united we are strong. By joining with like-minded individuals, you can help bring about a change to protect our National Parks for future generations to enjoy.
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