National Park Week
National Parks really are our best idea. If you’re lucky enough to live near some of our precious public lands, you may know how important they are: connecting us with nature, culture, history. Often we take them for granted, but Earth Month is the perfect time to celebrate our public lands. To get us started, National Park Week kicked off this weekend – visit any National Park for free through April 24 and celebrate the centennial year!
I happen to be headed to Olympic National Park this weekend. Hooray for happy coincidences! I am super excited to have discovered a new-to-me website and must share: Outdoor Project. Their story begins with getting people outside and building community around it. I’ve read about all the park and its many adventures I might try this short weekend and love the inside scoop on trails, beaches, camprgrounds, and sites. My to-do list is longer than the time I have, but I suppose that just means I’ll have to go back soon.
The landscapes of many National Parks get most of the recognition, but the wildlife brings a different story. A story filled with battles won, heartbreak, adventure, tension. So many conservation successes are because of National Parks, but also community strife when certain parts of the population can’t seem to stop wanting to kill apex predators. Too often for no good reason and always to the ecosystem’s detriment.
National Parks may be our best idea, but if we don’t protect their biodiversity it may be one of our worst regrets.
The Good, The Bad, The Environment
There’ve been a lot of stories about biodiversity related to our National Parks in environmental news lately. Some good, some bad, and all need more awareness. Happy reading!
Court Overturns Government Refusal to Protect Wolverine – A victory in court proves that lawsuits against the government are sometimes the answer. Several groups came together to defend wolverine against climate change and the political decision to delist them in the first place.
There are only an estimated 300 wolverine left in the northern Rockies and north Cascades. This extremely small population often leads to genetic isolation on its own, but being completely dependent on snow puts them even more at risk. The Endangered Species Act is brilliant when decisions are based on science. The court recognized the need for greater protection for wolverine.
OR4, after being fitted with a new tracking collar and ear tags in 2011. Photo: ODFW
OR-4, possibly the most influential wolf in America, was killed recently by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), along with his pregnant mate and their two pups. To say this decision was controversial is a gross understatement. Particularly since this comes so quickly after gray wolves were removed from the Endangered Species Act in Oregon.
As wolves have begun to gain ground and increase their populations, interactions with cattle ranchers and hunters also increase. Emotions are always high when we are talking about wolves in the west, but there is a way for wolves, ranchers, and hunters can coexist. There just needs to be a concerted effort to change things to accept wolves as part of the ecosystem in places that haven’t had them in far too long.
Efforts are currently underway by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to delist Yellowstone National Park’s grizzly bears. Removing these bears from the protection of the Endangered Species Act is truly to only serve trophy hunters. Some known hunters have already picked out their favorite target. Sickening.
There are many who are working tirelessly to let their voices be heard to protect these bears. This is a great way to get involved so that we don’t have to wait for Earthjustice to sue the government (and see the fallout in the meantime) or allow a bear like 399 to be killed as soon as her protections are removed. Will you take action?
Which park would you like to visit for National Park Week? Bonus points if you’re actually going! Double bonus points if you comment with anything related to the biodiversity of that National Park.