Before this trip, I had only seen the Grand Canyon in Arizona from the west rim, and Acadia National Park in Maine. They are both beautiful. But truth be told, I never was so inspired by the national parks as I am today, after having done this road trip.
It is so much more than looking at pretty sights, although that has been a true blessing. The breathtaking landscapes we have all seen from countless films and iconic photographs, are infinitely more awe-inspiring in person.
There are many good reasons for having national parks. They provide a safe home for native plants and animals, each park dedicated to what is local. They help us to learn about the environment, as well as give us places to enjoy. But for me, the protection that the parks provide to all the different plants and animals, the “biodiversity”, may be the most important. We share this planet with all these creatures and we must do our best to protect them. Many plants and animals can only live in certain areas. If that area is destroyed, we may lose the plants and animals who can only survive, and thrive, in that environment. And that would be criminal.
The parks play a large part in keeping the environment safe for humans. We all need fresh air, clean water and food. Without them we would die. The leaves of plants make fresh air. Their roots hold the soil together, which stops erosion and helps keep our waterways clean.
National parks are places of natural beauty. They are places for people to relax in and enjoy. Many people have fun hiking, camping or just having a picnic. There are lots of things to do in a national park such as swimming, skiing, painting, taking photographs, enjoying the view and taking in fresh air.
National parks are great teachers. They are places to learn about native plants and animals and the way they rely on each other. Historic sites help us to learn about how people lived in the past. Park rangers lead tours and give lectures.
America’s national parks were established to preserve our country’s greatest collection of natural treasures. Each one is so very different. The National Park Foundation is dedicated to the promise that our national parks be protected forever. As our environment faces new challenges ranging from natural disasters, to a changing climate, to archaeological treasures being damaged or stolen – let’s make sure we do our part by insisting that national leaders dedicate enough funds to preserve our national treasures. They are more than worth the effort!!!