While absolutely true that “National parks underfunded in era of tight budgets”(July 26, The Westerly Sun) by Jill Richardson, it’s a bit misleading since our National Parks have been underfunded even when our budgets were loose. Ken Burns award winning 2009 documentary, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” showcased the awe-inspiring beauty of our national heritage that across the world, is second to none. The disrepair of our national parks is a cruel joke since as Richardson points out, they give the biggest bang for the buck potentially providing lifetime memories inspiring the will to protect America’s best idea if only they were given the priority they so desperately need enabling more people to be exposed to them.
“Some folks love our parks because they conserve important habitats and species”: What animal is more representative of our great history than the revered bison (American Buffalo) that once numbered an estimated 30 million freely roaming this great country before the Europeans arrived here. But now American buffalo, on the brink of extinction, is confined to Yellowstone National Park which is no way to treat an icon that used to own this country. Our National Parks contain some of our most vital history that must be preserved for future generations to have a connection to, an appreciation for and firsthand experience of what makes this country unique.
You should know that in March, 1872, Congress approved and President Ulysses Grant signed into law an act establishing Yellowstone, the first National Park (of, by and for the people) in the world. This move was so admired internationally that today, more than 100 nations contain about 1,200 national parks or equivalent preserves around the world. We know that people who experience nature and the outdoors [where better to experience them than our unparalleled National Parks (he says rhetorically)], are much more likely to support and protect them but ignoring our National Parks keeps people away. In conclusion, is the inattention and underfunding of America’s best idea one of the worst ideas, outside of smoking, you can think of?