How Ev­ery­day Cit­i­zens Can Pro­tect Lo­cal Parks

Escalon Times - - LIVING -

Lo­cal and na­tional parks pro­vide great, of­ten awe-in­spir­ing respites from more de­vel­oped ar­eas. Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Park Ser­vice, the United States is home to 59 pro­tected ar­eas des­ig­nated as na­tional parks, and the Na­tional Park Ser­vice en­com­passes hun­dreds of ad­di­tional na­tional park sites as well. In Canada, more than 30 na­tional parks at­tract mil­lions of vis­i­tors each year, sup­port­ing the no­tion that na­tional parks are a global at­trac­tion wor­thy of gov­ern­men­tal pro­tec­tion. Na­tional parks have made head­lines in 2017, as de­bates about oil drilling in parks in the United States drew the ire of en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists and out­doors­men alike. While such de­bates can make ev­ery­day cit­i­zens feel help­less in re­gard to pro­tect­ing the parks they love, the fol­low­ing are a hand­ful of sim­ple ways or­di­nary men and women can chip in to pro­tect lo­cal and na­tional parks. Con­tact your lo­cal gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tive. Whether you live in the United States, Canada or an­other coun­try where parks are vul­ner­a­ble to drilling or other po­ten­tially harm­ful ac­tiv­ity, con­tact your lo­cal gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tive to voice your con­cerns. One per­son act­ing alone can feel in­signif­i­cant, but if enough cit­i­zens voice their con­cerns, they can com­pel their rep­re­sen­ta­tives to make changes that pro­tect parks for years to come. Obey the rules. The op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore is a great rea­son to visit parks, but it’s im­por­tant that park vis­i­tors ad­here to park rules by hik­ing and camp­ing in only those ar­eas des­ig­nated as hiker-and cam­per-friendly. By veer­ing off course, park vis­i­tors may in­ad­ver­tently dis­turb lo­cal plant and wildlife. Leave noth­ing be­hind. Mem­o­ries are not the only things park vis­i­tors should take with them when they leave the park. Es­ti­mates sug­gest that as much as 100 mil­lion pounds of garbage are gen­er­ated at Cal­i­for­nia’s Yosemite Na­tional Park each year. Sig­nif­i­cant dam­age can re­sult if even a tiny frac­tion of that garbage is left be­hind. In ad­di­tion, park of­fi­cials forced to ex­pend their limited re­sources on garbage pickup may not have enough re­sources left to ad­dress other is­sues, fur­ther threat­en­ing the park. Whether you’re hik­ing or camp­ing, make sure every­thing you take into the park comes with you when you leave. If you have trash, make sure it’s de­posited into the ap­pro­pri­ate re­cep­ta­cles. En­cour­age ac­tivism. Out­doors en­thu­si­asts who want to pro­tect their beloved parks can en­cour­age ac­tivism in their com­mu­ni­ties. Work with park of­fi­cials to or­ga­nize trash pickup days at the park or or­ga­nize ac­tiv­i­ties for school-aged young­sters that teach them the im­por­tance of con­ser­va­tion and re­spect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment. Pro­tect­ing parks is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of govern­ments and their cit­i­zens. While ev­ery­day cit­i­zens may see pro­tect­ing parks as a daunt­ing task, there are many sim­ple ways they can pro­tect parks and pre­serve them for decades to come.

Pro­tect­ing parks is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of govern­ments and their cit­i­zens.

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