The beauty of our country can often be understated, especially once you fall into a day-to-day routine that might not always enable time to be allotted for exploring the sites. The national parks of the United States are grandiose encapsulations of some of the best parts of this country. From coast to coast, from Redwood National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, parks play a huge role in the way we identify as Americans and how we frame our relationship with each other and the land we inhabit together as Americans. With the government shutdown calling into question the accessibility of the parks, as they’re all closed until funding is found, now is a great moment to reflect on our nation’s wonderful national parks:
1. Landmarks Shape Our Identity
National Parks have some of the most identifiable and unique landmarks that often cannot be found anywhere else. Notable icons include Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, Horseshoe Bend in Grand Canyon National Park, and the beautiful sandstone arches across Arches National Park in Utah. Just like the unique attributes that compose each of us and make us identifiable to ourselves and others, these landmarks give a substantive identity to us all as Americans. The parks, in turn, function as useful portals for us to learn more about who we are as a country.
2. To Provide an Intimate Space to Experience Nature
Most times in our lives when we go into nature, it’s simply to explore our neighborhood park that is much less serene and arguably more contrived than we realize. While still a nice space, it pales in comparison to our national parks. National parks are often home to the most dramatic aspects of nature, including various mountains, lakes, and wildlife. They’re also very nice because of the ability to explore vast areas in a much more intimate way, be it through camping, hiking, swimming, photographing, or many other ways.
3. To Maintain Biodiversity
Many of the animals that inhabit these parks don’t exist anywhere else, they’re either threatened or endangered. This makes our national parks home to some of the rarest animals in the world. Additionally, as cities and the expansion of various highways further takes hold on the country, there’s increasingly less space available for wildlife to roam freely. National parks give them a natural habitat in which to exist unhindered from civilization, which helps to converse biodiversity.
4. To Help the Environment
Today’s society has increased carbon emission levels to alarming levels, so it’s even more critical to maintain proper proportions of trees to help absorb the carbon and emit more oxygen to help offset this. The national parks in place help to ensure that, at least to an extent, proper levels of trees and flora are maintained.
5. To Preserve Historical and Indigenous Sites
People were living in America long before settlers landed here, so it has been very important to make sure that Native Americans have reservations that they’re permitted to maintain their culture in. Also, some national parks exist to help preserve the culture and history of our ancestors.