It’s been a tough week for National Park fans and staff with all 401 units closed as a result of the government shutdown. Here are five tips below to help you get engaged and support the parks through this challenged time. Can you add any other ideas to the list?
1. Call or Write a Letter to Your Congressional Representative
Your voice and opinions matter to your elected officials, so write a letter or make a phone call to voice your support for our National Parks. It seems that some in congress have little clue about how their decision making impacts the parks and their staff, so let them know you want the parks open and fully staffed because they are essential. Alternately, send letters of praise to those representatives who demonstrate support for the parks.
2. Join a National Parks Advocacy Group
There are many groups at the forefront to advocate and raise funds for National Parks. Some include the National Parks Conservation Association, the National Park Foundation, as well as several other organizations made up of ordinary citizens who are dedicated to supporting National Parks around the country. These organizations welcome diverse voices, and are an excellent way to learn more about how to support National Parks year-round.
3. Stay Engaged with Nature via State and Local Parks
What has surfaced during the national park closure is that many people do not know that city, regional, and state parks remain open and fully staffed. Your local parks offer rich opportunities to engage with natural local history, and you can learn cool new things about nature, literally in your own back yard. Local and state parks can be a gateway to National Park experiences, and those places need your support and visitorship too!
4. Encourage Park Staff
Park staff, from the back office to the frontlines, face unplanned and devastating financial consequences as a result of the shutdown, with an added insult of being tinted as “non-essential” through a politicized lens. Use your social media networks to share what the National Parks mean to you, and how you appreciate the hardworking men and women who help preserve them.
5. Learn National Park History
As a family or community, have a movie night to watch the excellent PBS series on the National Parks by Ken Burns, National Parks: America’s Best Idea. It chronicles the fascinating history and intention behind the creation of the National Parks that adds insight into today’s Park challenges. Also, get a copy of Frank and Audrey Peterman’s book Legacy on the Land and view their website to whet your appetite for National Park stories, adventure, and more!
How are you coping with the National Park closure?