Why Our National Parks Are So Important

More than just vacation spots, national parks have stood the test of time as symbols of national pride, conservation and beauty. Since Yellowstone, the first-ever national park established in 1872, these parks have brought in billions of dollars in revenue annually and provided jobs for hundreds of thousands of people across the United States.

However, in 2017, the Trump administration attempted to cut funding for the National Park Service by 13 percent, a proposal that was denied by Congress. If enacted, this would have been the highest budget cut to the organization since World War II. This could have been detrimental to the NPS (National Park Service), as the parks are already underbudgeted despite their importance in society and efforts in the conservation of the earth.

With the declining health of our planet and the ever-increasing list of endangered species, the protection of national parks is more important than ever before.

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One reason that national parks are so important to Earth is that they serve as sanctuary-like homes for the animals that inhabit them. All animals living within the respective bounds of national parks are protected from dangers such as poaching, trapping, accidental deaths, etc. These parks provide a safe habitat for animals to breed and survive without the threat of negative human intervention. An example of one of the hundreds of species protected by the NPS is the grizzly bear. Residing in Glacier, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, these bears have been safeguarded from human interaction and seen a steady increase in population size since they were placed on the endangered species list in 1975.

Similarly, NPS protect natural landscapes that are at a high risk of disappearing the more development and pollution increases on our planet. Free from these threats, landforms are allowed to exist normally as habitats for animals under the jurisdiction of the NPS. Because of this protection by law, landforms such as mountains, rainforests, sand dunes and more have a greater chance of survival and functionality, a crucial factor in keeping the earth healthy.

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On the other hand, national parks do even more than preserve the environment and the animals that inhabit it. These parks serve as a preservation of the history of the United States and the cultures and tribes that accompany their surrounding areas. Any historical structures or buildings that are built within the bounds of a park fall under its lawful protection.

For example, in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park there is an old one-room schoolhouse called The Little Greenbriar School that was built in 1882. This building served as a classroom and church for over 50 years and is now a historical marker of life in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The NPS also works closely with and provides financial support for American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians.

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National parks serve more purposes than people may often think. By conserving animals and landforms, protecting the history of the surrounding areas and providing jobs for upwards of 300,000 people, the National Park System plays an integral role in the health of planet earth as well as the status of American society.