In honor of #NationalParkWeek, we at Loa have been reflecting on the significance of national parks.
What’s not to love? Since their official establishment in 1916, the 417 protected areas that compose America’s national park system have provided countless benefits for us. We spend our weekends in these special places discovering fun trails, camping spots, and refreshing lakes. We utilize them as gathering spots with friends and family to create cherished memories and unforgettable bonding experiences. We celebrate local history and heritage by preserving artifacts and sharing stories. They inspire historical artistic creations by figures like Ansel Adams, John Muir, and Ken Burns. And, perhaps most importantly, they protect our planet by preserving ecosystems, saving species, and transforming our CO2 emissions into oxygen.
National parks play a huge role in making America great. Writer and historian Wallace Stegner has proclaimed national parks “the best idea [America] ever had — absolutely American and absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” Studies have shown that 80% of Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes to support them. And a spectrum of campaigns have blossomed showcasing the personal reasons we value national parks. Regardless of political affiliations, it’s undeniable that Americans love national parks.
Unfortunately, recent policy changes have posed new challenges to environmental protection. With these changes (such as privatization threats, budget cuts, and the nullification of rules that limit pollution and enforce environmental impact assessments), our public lands are becoming more vulnerable.
Below is a list of ways that YOU can support the National Park Service during these hard times.
Grab someone you love and take a trip! What better way to support our parks than by using them? The incentive to visit is even higher with fee-free admission during #NationalParkWeek. The weekends of April 15-16th and 22-23rd will be free, as well as other dates you can find here.
If you have the means, we strongly recommend investing in your parks. Generosity from those who love and support NPS hold far more than monetary value. You can make a one-time donation, an annual donation, plan a legacy donation, or donate in honor or memory of someone. Still need convincing? Check out these stories by other donors.
Don’t have money to donate? Raise it!
Try crowdfunding. You’ve got tons of options – sell your own art, get sponsored in a marathon, or host a bake sale or yard sale.
Donate your time by volunteering
This option may be more valuable than a check. NPS volunteers help save millions of dollars by volunteering in trail conservation and education outreach. Plus, you get to spend time in parks — a true win-win.
Support the ‘See America Campaign’ by buying art
See America is a crowd-sourced art campaign that has partnered with the National Parks Conservation Association that sells environmental art to remind us of our country’s natural beauty.
Eat more chocolate
Salazon Chocolate has recently launched a new “Trail Series” chocolate, inspired by the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails. A portion of sales proceed NPS.
Take a sustainable Globus vacation to support park firefighters
Globus, a sustainable tourism group, has partnered with the Wildland Firefighter Association to create trips that support the brave firefighters who work diligently to protect our national forests.
March to support science that values our parks
Support the science that backs up the environmental importance of our parks! The March for Science is a call to support and safeguard the scientific community, inspired by recent concern over changing environmental policies. Santa Barbara will be holding a march on April 22nd at the De La Guerra Plaza, or if you’re not from the area, find your local march here.
Buy National Parks Gear
Spread your generosity to the parks and end up with a snazzy new outdoors accessory? Yes, please! The National Parks souvenir shop has everything from hammocks to calendars to apparel.
Become an artist in residence
Looking for the perfect getaway to paint, write, sketch, compose, or [insert other creative activity here]? Look no further. NPS offers an array of positions available to the public.
Tell the government what you think
The upcoming years will likely be very taxing on the environment. Show your support by calling or writing your house and/or senate representatives letting them know you want them to promote legislation that protects our parks and land.
Start and spread the conversation
Start and engage in discussion about America’s natural resources! We’re lucky to be ahead of the game by already appreciating nature. It’s up to us to get others invested in their own personal relationships with nature and the parks, in order to feel the passion for protecting them.