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Examiner
  • Lynn Youngblood: Preserving our national parks

  •  In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant established Yellowstone National Park as the first national park. It was also the first national park in the world.

    Now the National park system is comprised of 397 parks, 27,000 historic structures, 2,461 national historic landmarks, 582 national natural landmarks and 40 national heritage areas.

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  •  In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant established Yellowstone National Park as the first national park. It was also the first national park in the world.
    Now the National park system is comprised of 397 parks, 27,000 historic structures, 2,461 national historic landmarks, 582 national natural landmarks and 40 national heritage areas.
    Image the vision that President Grant had 140 years ago to look at all of the wild landscapes in the United States and realize that at some point, people would multiply in such vast numbers that these wild places’ very existence would be threatened. Image looking at the geysers at Yellowstone, the waterfalls at Yosemite (the second national park) and the other incredible vistas, knowing that these sites needed to be preserved for all of posterity.
    Think of the fortitude and wisdom of the congressmen to set aside vast amounts of monies to care for these sites. This was a whole new concept. Perhaps they faced some ridicule from their constituents, to spend these dollars and take this land out of availability for personal purchases.
    Now, fast forward to today. The lands our forefathers tried to protect are being pillaged!
    According to Brian Merchant of Treehugger.com, “Oil and gas drilling operations are already well underway in twelve national parks, and that number may soon balloon to 42 if the fossil fuel companies get their way.”
    Apparently, the Center for American Progress recently requested data from National Park Service on current and future fossil-fuel drilling operations and the Park Service complied, outlining the 42 national parks where oil and gas drilling is occurring “or may be soon.”
    Oil and gas drilling sites are at famous national parks such as Mammoth Cave (Kentucky), Grand Teton (Wyoming), Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico), Padre Island (Texas), Big Thicket (Texas), Gulf Islands (Mississippi), Big Cypress (Florida), and Cumberland Gap (Kentucky). Skeptics may wonder what the big deal is. Why should anyone care? The big deal is that not only are oil and gas rigs unsightly and ruin the incredible vistas that so many travel to witness, but just one site involves miles of roads, pipelines and other infrastructure. Of course, with all of the infrastructure things can go wrong. CAP outlined the dangers of drilling, “Toxic chemicals such as naphthalene and benzene are sometimes used in oil and gas drilling and production activities. There is also the equally real threat of spills, which are frequent both onshore and offshore. One estimate found that in North Dakota in 2011 alone there were more than a thousand spills of oil, wastewater, or other drilling fluids”.
    Gulf Islands is a national seashore, and Big Cypress is in the everglades. Mammoth Cave National Park is home to more than 70 threatened, endangered or state listed species. These plants and animals do not get listed as species of concern because they are thriving! Imagine now if a pipeline broke at one of these sites. All for what? Some oil because Americans cannot seem to cut down on their thirst and flagrant use.
    Page 2 of 2 - The national parks are often referred to as America’s gems. Indeed, they represent the best of the landscapes, vistas, and habitats that can be found throughout this vast country. What will it take for us to decide we need to protect our own treasures?
    Reach Lynn Youngblood at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net.
     
     
     
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