Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Core Operations Rant, Part 1

***Before I begin today's topic, I will pause. Please. PLEASE don't get into a debate over the good and evil of our government. This is not my main point.***

For those of us who are fans of our country's amazing parks, there is a website that often gives interesting information - and sometimes debates - on park issues. The National Parks Traveler offers all sorts of information, opinions, and feedback about the parks from both insider and visitor perspectives.

Last Friday, an article was posted:

Updated: NPS Director Jarvis Ends "Core Ops" Budgeting Across The National Park System ("Core Operations Issue" my title)

The whole debate bothers me, for many reasons. Some of these reasons I haven't even sorted out inside my head yet. Here's just a beginner:

We are facing a time where, especially our youth, are terribly disconnected from the natural resources and raw materials that make their very lives possible. To say that Mount Rainier is a store of drinking water for Pugetropolis is a foreign notion. Drinking water comes from the faucet, right?!

There are numerous facets to this arguement, many of which can't be effective. Trees encroaching on subalpine meadows? Pikas facing warming temperatures? Future flooding and lahars? Who cares?! But tell people they might not have clean fresh water to drink and bathe? God forbid.

Everything is related, we just have to understand the relationships.

We have millions of visitors to our parks every year. We need to help them enjoy, appreciate, understand and relate to our parks and resources. We will have a much easier time managing our parks and the crowds of visitors - and gaining their help and support for our park - if these visitors are connected.

But if all we do is clear the roads and monitor frogs, how will the visitors get connected?

We need a bridge of sorts. That's where the interpretive rangers come into play. If we can answer one question (other than "Where's the bathroom?"), suggest one fabulous trail, explain one animal behavior, or identify one plant, then maybe we'll make a park fan out of an average visitor.

I love our parks. I have very fond memories and multitudes of positive experiences outdoors in the mountains. You all know how much I love wildflowers. ;) It is my hope that I can spark just a few more folks to be parkies like me. I want to see our parks preserved so that we can continue to enjoy them into the future.

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