Since Yellowstone first opened in 1916, national parks have attracted millions of people from all over the world to marvel at their beauty.
There is nothing quite like watching the sunrise over the Grand Canyon or taking a float trip down the Snake River in the Tetons as the sun sets.
We are privileged to have access to these magnificent lands, thanks to Teddy Roosevelt and the National Parks Service (NPS). In fact, it was Roosevelt who once said, “We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”
Over the last eight years, we were doing our part to preserve these natural wonders. The protection and upkeep of our national parks were a priority.
New monuments were created, laws were passed to help protect the lands from destruction and the 2015 Paris deal marked the U.S as a major leader in preventing the worsening of climate change and keeping our planet safe and clean. Unfortunately, a lot of progress and protections are under threat from the Trump administration.
One of the main goals of this new administration is to slash the budget to the Park Service and to cut out the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) altogether. It’s no secret that President Donald Trump believes climate change is a hoax, and it seems only fitting that he would appoint people to his cabinet that felt the same way.
Scott Pruitt, who was appointed the head of the EPA, is an active and outspoken climate change denier and has long advocated for the destruction of the EPA.
The attacks on our national parks and the environment didn’t stop with the confirmation of Pruitt. Trump recently signed an executive order that rolled back EPA regulations set up to help fight climate change in order to revive the coal industry. He has also approved the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, something which has been proven to be toxic to the environment.
My love for our national parks runs deep. I fell in love with the Grand Canyon the first time I saw it. When I close my eyes and go to my happy place, I see myself in the Tetons. I conquered one of the most difficult and rewarding hikes in Zion National Park.
I have visited 13 of our national parks, and I plan on visiting the rest of them at some point. I can’t do that, however, if they are destroyed by pipelines or developments, or if the EPA can no longer protect them.
These fears might not seem rational, and last year I would have agreed that I am overreacting. But Trump hasn’t even been in office for 100 days and he’s already begun dismantling the EPA and climate change regulations.
I am genuinely afraid of what the next four years will do to not only our national parks but the environment as a whole. We live in such a beautiful world. Our children, our children’s children and all other future generations deserve the same chance we have to bask in all its untouched and natural glory.
We owe it to them to fight against anyone who wants to harm our planet and keep moving forward with the progress we’ve made in the fight against climate change.
I highly encourage you to visit our national parks and soak up all of the beauty. Whether you travel the country or stay close to home, your experience will change your views on the world.
Take the time to see the gifts mother nature gave us, and remember, crying is always an acceptable reaction to the glorious view of the Grand Canyon.