All posts in Conservation

How Social Media is Helping Our National Parks

About three weeks ago I moved to Zion National Park. As I was sitting in my office researching the park, so I would be able to answer any visitor questions, I saw something astounding. The visitation in Zion has increased from 2 million to 4.3 million in less than five years. I asked my supervisor why he thought the visitation had increased so much and he answered “social media.” I found this very interesting, about a year ago I wrote a blog entitled “How Social Media is Destroying our National Parks”, on this site and while I still stand by the arguments I made in the blog, today I thought that I would offer a different, alternative viewpoint on how social media is helping save our national parks. This issue is not, and has never been black and white.

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How does the Federal Government Hiring Freeze Affect Your Future?

DSC00504What made you initially want to work in the forestry field? For me, I have wanted to work in this field as long as I can remember. Its more of a passion than a job. I remember when I was very little reading the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible. I remember asking about the Garden of Eden, and my father explaining that Garden of Eden was like the most beautiful national park in the world. I was familiar with the national parks, and so in my young, impressionable mind, I decided that Adam and Eve were park rangers and that I too needed to be a park ranger.

Top 16 National Park Headlines from 2016

dsc09397-2As we approach the end of 2016, I think this is an opportune time to look back on the Centennial year of the National Park Service. It has been a busy year in the parks, with lots of ups and downs. In case you missed them, these are some of the headlines in the NPS from 2016.

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Why Obama’s National Park Trip Matters

When President Obama visited Yosemite and Carlsbad Caverns this month, he faced a lot of criticism. Some of the complaints were that the timing wasn’t right following the tragedy in Orlando, that his weekend visit interrupted the Father’s Day weekend of too many people in the crowded Yosemite, that he should be focused on more important things than the national parks, and finally that his transportation had a negative environmental impact on these places. Even if every single one of these complaints were absolutely legitimate, Obama’s visit to the parks was still important and still necessary.

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How Recent Yellowstone Headlines Illustrate the Challenges Facing Our Public Lands

IMG_6499Recently, Yellowstone has been the spotlight of many trending headline: the woman petting the bison on opening day, the foreign tourists putting a bison calf in their vehicle because it looked cold, the group of four Canadians walking out on Grand Prismatic Spring, and, even today, a trending headline about an elk charging a woman taking a photo of it. While these headlines can be equal parts amusing and infuriating, they perfectly illustrate the challenges facing our public lands and, in particular, our national parks as they enter the next century.

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The Troubling Lack of Diversity in America’s National Parks

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The National Parks are known to be colorful, from the wildflowers to brilliant sunsets and sunrises to the wide diversity of colorful animals and even to the rainbow colored waters. However, there is one area in which our parks are seriously lacking in color and that is within the people who visit our national treasures. Out of the over 307 million people who visit our parks each year, a surprisingly low percentage of them are minorities. In fact, only 22% of the people who visit the parks identify as non-white. This is a troubling statistic, and it is one that needs to change. But how?

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What Impact Do Our Public Lands Have on Environmental Stewardship?

IMG_3271When visiting Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, or any other of the vast number of protected scenic lands in the United States, most people are grateful that the land was set aside to be protected. But besides the immediate effects of conserving a piece of land, what other benefits do America’s Public Lands have on the green movement as a whole and how do they positively affect environmental stewardship?

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How Social Media is Harming our Public Lands

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I, like many others, am extremely active on social media. I check it first thing when I wake up and right before I fall asleep. I follow many people whose work I find inspiring and I constantly check hashtags in an effort to discover new people, new locations, and new perspectives. However, lately I have begun noticing a trend that extremely distressing to me as a conservationist and park ranger: People hurting the protected (and to me, the absolutely most sacred) land of our national parks, in order to get the shot. I don’t want to point fingers, name names, or even be a spoil-sport, but somebody has got to say something, and it might as well be me. But before we go farther, I want to make one thing clear. I do not in any way, shape or form, believe that social media is the root of the problem that is apathy, or that it is a new problem. People have been disrespecting parks for years. But I do strongly believe that the influences social media has is now a huge issue and is quietly destroying the parks faster than ever before.

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The National Park Service to Undergo Complete Rebrand for 2016 Centennial

IMG_9517After the news of the Federal Budget increase for the National Park Service, several more initiatives have been announced as the NPS undergoes a rebrand in order for their centennial in 2016. They are using their 100th birthday as an opportunity to change the way people think of, view, and visit the national park system. They are presenting the parks to an entirely new audience in order to sustain them for the next 100 years. Studies have shown that although visitation in the parks is up –with 292 million visits in 2014 alone-, the people who are visiting are mostly older Caucasians. Jonathan Jarvis explains that, “If we were a business and that was our clientele, then over the long term, we would probably be out of business.” The two initiatives are part of a major effort by the park service in order to breathe new life into the aging system to carry it in the future.

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2016 Federal Budget to Provide Job Opportunities in Forestry

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Schwabacher Landing at Grand Teton National Park, one of the many parks to benefit from the new budget.

Like many others who dream of having careers with the federal government in the forestry field, when I graduated from college in 2013, I was overwhelmed with a sense of hopelessness. All that I ever been told was how competitive and impossible it was to land one of these jobs. I was told to prepare to try for a decade before I was able to get into these fields. Surprisingly, despite all that I had been told, I landed a job less than a year later. I realized it wasn’t as difficult as I had been warned and that it has been increasingly easier to get jobs in forestry field in the past years. Students have even more reason to be hopeful about their future careers thanks to an especially generous federal budget that was just released this past week.

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