The Importance of the National Park Service

Lauren Pinder - Teen Aspect - June 19th, 2022
Oxbow Bend with a reflection of Mount Moran, Grand Teton NP, Wyoming. Robert Baker
 

Should the National Park Service exist?


The National Park Service (NPS) is known for conserving unscathed “natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.” [1] The NPS also coordinates national and international programs that provide awareness and make the most of cultural and natural conservation, as well as outdoor recreation.


Formed in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson’s signing of the Organic Act, the National Park Service has grown from protecting 35 national parks to more than 400 national parks and sites, including seashores, oceans, lakes, reservoirs, historic structures, archeological sites, natural and historic landmarks, battlefields, reserves, and parkways. With a total number of 84 million acres of land, 4.5 million acres of protected bodies of water, and 85,000 miles of rivers and streams, the NPS operates with a budget of a little over $2.75 billion and another $5.4 billion through grants regarding preservation and the outdoors. [2]


Grand Prismatic Springs at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Photo by Big Sky

The National Park Service provides an annual $13 billion of revenue in economies local to NPS sites. Furthermore, the NPS generates “252,000 jobs for local economies each year.” [2]


However, opponents to the NPS believe that American citizens would be better off if land protected by the National Parks could be “made more economically productive.” [3] A common claim is that wildlands are a disservice to communities, and it would be more beneficial if the land is sold to private corporations or the federal government for development. Some opponents will go so far to argue that the children of the future will express gratitude for not making parks because of the economic possibility that may result from selling the land.


While selling land for development will provide an economic profit, the existence of national parks not only provide economic prosperity but also educational prosperity on the topics of conservation and the value of unique sites that make up America’s beauty.


The National Park Service has a “Junior Ranger” program in which children can complete educational booklets containing activities on local species and historical sites. Upon completion, children receive an honorary badge and take an oath “to protect parks, continue to learn about parks, and share their own ranger story with friends and family.”[4] By involving families, it is the National Park Service’s aim to expand support and awareness of the natural beauty that remains on the planet.


The National Park Service not only makes an impact on environment protection but also an impact on the human lives who have witnessed protected nature free from humanity’s damaging touch.


A study consisting of 20,000 people led by Matthew White of the Center for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter resulted in the conclusion that “nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive function.” [5]. As long as people feel safe, spending time in nature can be an “antidote” for stress [5]. The NPS is a great way to safely observe beautiful nature sites that not only provide security for onlookers but also animals and plants that reside in the park.


People from across the world travel to the United States to witness the beauty and uniqueness of national parks. For instance, Everglades National Park protects an “unparalleled landscape” that consists of rare and endangered species including the Florida manatee, American crocodiles, and the Florida panther.[6] “At least one million” people visit the park each year, viewing 1.5 million acres of subtropical and tropical habitats including Hammock, Mangrove, Pineland, Sawgrass, and Slough. Everglades NP is one of the most diverse parks in the National Park Service, making it the most attractive to nature enthusiasts.[7]


The Florida Manatee at Everglades National Park. Photo by Hillenrbrand/USFWS and David Hinkel of USFWS

Some national parks and reserves are the only places where certain species reside due to limited protected habitation. For instance, Great Smoky Mountains National Park houses 30 species of salamanders ranging from 2 inches to 3 feet, and 24 of which are lungless and only reside in the soggy ground and mountainous air.


Destruction of the National Park Service would mean loss of habitat, organisms, and historical and natural beauty. To destroy the national parks is to destroy America’s national treasure; a treasure rich with pristine creation.


The National Park Service should continue to exist in order to preserve the wonders that make up America’s homeland in order to protect distinctive environments and provide an opportunity of rejuvenation and relaxation for humans.


Works Cited:

[1] U.S. Department of the Interior. (2017, March 24). Our Mission, Role and Purpose. National Parks Service. Retrieved June 1, 2022, from https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1955/our-mission-and-role.htm

[2] Park Ranger EDU. (2021, December 13). What is the National Park Service? How to Become a Park Ranger | State and Federal Park Ranger Education. Retrieved June 1, 2022, from https://www.parkrangeredu.org/what-is-the-national-park-service/

[3] Palmer, B. (2022, April 25). The People Who Opposed America's Best Idea. NRDC. Retrieved June 1, 2022, from https://www.nrdc.org/onearth/people-who-opposed-americas-best-idea

[4] U.S. Department of the Interior. (n.d.). Become a Junior Ranger (U.S. National Park Service). National Parks Service. Retrieved June 1, 2022, from https://www.nps.gov/kids/become-a-junior-ranger.htm

[5] Robbins, J. (2020, January). Ecopsychology: How immersion in nature benefits your health. Yale E360. Retrieved June 5, 2022, from https://e360.yale.edu/features/ecopsychology-how-immersion-in-nature-benefits-your-health

[6] U.S. Department of the Interior. (n.d.). Everglades National Park (U.S. National Park Service). National Parks Service. Retrieved June 5, 2022, from https://www.nps.gov/ever/index.htm

[7] National Park Foundation. (n.d.). Everglades National Park. Water, Wildlife, and Wonder Everglades National Park. Retrieved June 11, 2022, from https://www.nationalparks.org/connect/explore-parks/everglades-national-park


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