The U.S. National Park Service made a few headlines this week. After angering its new leader by tweeting actual photos of inauguration crowds, it was then caught up in an attempt by the new administration to wipe federal agencies clean of climate change facts. In its futile efforts to wash multitudes of data from the national consciousness, it failed to consider the passion, knowledge and unflinching enthusiasm of our National Park Rangers.
I’ll never forget the minutes a ranger spared for my husband and I at Yosemite National Park. While walking through the sequoia grove, we spotted a coyote lounging around within sight of the trail. Such sightings spurn a nervous, curious sort of excitement, but later a ranger, surrounded by a crowd, spared several minutes to field our questions about coyotes with obviously thorough knowledge of the park’s wildlife.
At Mesa Verde, a ranger led us on an amazing tour of the Balcony House dwelling. His passion made me acknowledge that perhaps I am better suited for working in such an environment, because when I visit them – no matter where they might be – I am entirely in my zone of comfort and “connectedness.” To be just another speck of life beneath towering waterfalls, or ancient trees, or arches shaped by an eternity of unforgiving weather, is both humbling and motivating.
And so I am motivated to keep writing about these national treasures, in my own effort “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations (Woodrow Wilson, 1916).” There is no individual, no matter how careless or clueless, who can steal what I’ve experienced at our National Parks to date, and I am fairly sure that I’m not going to be alone in protecting them for years to come.
Let’s support the National Park Service.