Climate change is just one of the environmental issues effecting the National Parks today. Have we been taking these viewscapes for granted? We have been seeing significant changes to the National Parks within our life time. Such as the Mountain Pine Beetle infecting the Pine Trees in Rocky Mountain National Park and the quickly depleting glaciers in Glacier National Park. Climate change has also been effecting the wildlife inside our National Parks. No longer will you be able to view the moose in Isle Royale National Park in Michigan since they have recently been said to be heading North out of the warming temperatures. Or how about the reefs and marine life in Virgin Islands National Park. Because of disease, warming waters, and acidic waters, they are quickly declining. I wish there was a way I could single handedly fix these issue, but that just is not the case.
I started thinking about how taking our parks for granted has become an issue during a discussion in Environmental Issues in Tourism class. We have done this in the past to our National Parks. Everyone using their vehicles to travel for a weekend to the park, effectively creating congestion and mass pollution. Once again, we have impacted our parks so severely that they are now depleting, declining, and `self destructing`, as I see it. Maybe, instead of thinking long term, we as a population should start to think how we can slow down the destruction of our beautiful parks. Don`t take our National Parks for granted, help preserve them for future generations. Our children and grandchildren should have the benefit of seeing the beauty our countries have to offer.
When visiting National Parks, most visitors go to see the beauty of nature and to get out of the city to enjoy the fresh air. Though how soon will this be disrupted? At Shenandoah National Park, elevated levels of ozone have been documented which has damaged park vegetation. “Park staff members are concerned with this situation and therefore work on a variety of programs related to monitoring, research, and emissions reduction. Park staff members have also instituted an Ozone Advisory program aimed at educating employees and park visitors about the risk of exposure to ozone and precautions that can be taken” (NPS: http://www.nps.gov/shen/naturescience/gaseous_pollutants.htm). Pollution also affects the visibility in the park. Smog, which is caused by pollution, creates a layer of haze overtop of the park and disrupts the visual appeal for the tourists.
This short youtube clip shows how the ozone in the air has affected the vegetation in Sequoia National Park.
The Huffington Post posted a very interesting article on the subject of air pollution in the National Parks within the U.S.which you can read here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/29/national-parks-air-pollution-ranked_n_1553359.html. I never imagined that air pollution could have such an impact on a rural area such as a National Park. When I think of smog, I think of large urban areas in the U.S. such as LA or New York. However, this has not seemed been the case as of late. California’s Sequoia National Park was rated top for air pollution with a quarter of the year, or 87 days, recording dangerous smog levels. Maybe we as a population should start looking at our pollution ‘footprint’ since these prestige areas are now dangerous because of us as a human race.
Recently, I came across an article on the CBC news website which mentioned opening up two National Parks in Newfoundland for Moose hunting. They were planning on handing out over 900 hunting draws for these areas to reduce the number of moose habitats in the area. I feel as though this is not necessary. Canada is filled with land to hunt on, so what is the governments reasoning behind using our National Parks! Don’t get me wrong, I am for hunting, I just believe there is a time and place and that it should not be aloud within theses areas.
When I looked further into this, I found an article which speaks about the ‘Sportsmen’s Heritage Act’. In April 2012, a conservation bill was sent to Senate in the US. This bill was set to open up more of the National Parks within the US to hunting and fishing. There are now a total of 60-70 National Parks which allow hunting during the permitted seasons. I had believed that the National Parks were used for conservation and to protect a piece of our beautiful country. These parks should be used for learning about our heritage and historical events, not for hunting for sport!
You can learn more about the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr4089/text