The Good, The Bad, The Environment: National Park Week

Almost All The Truth - National Park Week

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!

The Good

Almost All The Truth - Wolverine

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.

Win!

The Bad

Almost All The Truth - OR4

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.

The Ongoing

Almost All The Truth - bear 399

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?

 

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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.

 

 

 

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Comments

The Good, The Bad, The Environment: National Park Week — 10 Comments

  1. I am so glad that you shared the planned delisting of grizzly bears! These iconic bears are an umbrella species, which means, by virtue of their presence in the ecosystem, tons of other species can be there too. Nearly 50 tribes are fighting the delisting. They say that, if the grizzlies are delisted, over 2 million acres of habitat will be opened for mining, logging and energy development. We need to stop this, as you said, before we have to wait for EarthJustice to sue. Cuz that seems how everything rolls lately.

    Have a blast at Olympic! I’m pea green with envy. We were going to go there this summer but it fell through.

  2. I was listening to NPR the other day about the plight of bison in the national parks. If they are found on non park land, they are taken and slaughtered. I was horrified. It makes me so angry to see how horribly humans treat these amazing animals.

    • Yes! Bison have it tough too. Luckily their population is doing pretty well, but if we actually let our apex predators (wolves in this case) do their jobs then hunting would never be needed. A big issue is that wildlife know no park boundaries, and shouldn’t! The latest issue of National Geographic magazine is completely devoted to the greater Yellowstone ecosystem showing how huge the entire ecosystem is and how much land it relies on. When we attempt to draw lines that allow our wildlife to be hunted beyond these human imagined boundaries we are really harming the entire ecosystem. Highly recommend this video on how wolves have changed rivers for the better in Yellowstone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa5OBhXz-Q.

  3. Wow, what a lot of news! I wish it were better :( How ironic that one of the most popular comic book characters in Marvel history (Wolverine) is so endangered. And how sad for the wolf – and his entire family! Shocking. And I’m really sorry to hear that about grizzlies. It amazes me how little we take for granted the beautiful creatures we’ve been blessed with. But that said, your post is encouraging me to take my kids to all the nearby parks here in PA over the summer. It will be a fun family adventure! Thanks for sharing.

    • Well, there is some good news, at least there could be. Protections for endangered populations are too important! I am thrilled you’re considering visiting your nearby parks. The more we support them, the more our voices will be heard over those who wish to do harm to our public lands. Plus, they’re just fun!

  4. I love all the attention drawn to the National Parks through this effort! We will actually be visiting the Olympic National Park this summer! I’d love some advice on where to visit. We’re also still looking for a place to stay (cabin or hotel, not camping) so if you have any suggestions let me know!

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