Resolutions and the National Parks: What Will You Do?

Shoshone Lake, Yellowstone National Park. Kurt Repanshek photo.

Resolutions are end-of-the-year stuff. We take stock of what we've done the past 365 days and vow to make changes in the coming year. With that in mind, perhaps some of those resolutions should involve the national parks.

For Tom Wharton, an outdoor writer at the Salt Lake Tribune, his resolution is to visit all 58 of the national parks. With 40 already checked off, he's well on his way.

That's a quick and easy, and enjoyable, resolution. Though unless you're financially set and can travel at will it seems overly ambitious to accomplish in one year. Something perhaps more manageable would be a resolution to visit all the national parks in your region. For me that'd be the Intermountain Region, and I've made substantial progress towards that goal. Still, to fill it out I'd have to visit Petrified Forest, Saguaro. Carlsbad Caverns, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and Great Sand Dunes national parks. That would require a long road trip over a couple weeks, but it's within the realm of possibility.

Perhaps, though, a more logical and appropriate resolution for me would be to focus through the Traveler more scrutiny on how the National Park Service manages the national park system and to encourage more Americans to become national park advocates. In some ways that is a lofty goal, as there are nearly 400 units of the national park system and so much news and developments to look into.

Plus, accomplishing that on a volunteer basis is asking a lot. But I've long held the national park system dear and have much concern for its current state of affairs, let alone its future.

I'd like to think I'm making progress. In the past year the Traveler has questioned the rise in entrance and amenity fees across the park system, explored the debate over snowmobiles in Yellowstone, looked at the give-and-take of off-road vehicles and personal watercraft in the parks, shined a light on questionable (at least to me) functions in the parks, and interviewed former NPS Director Fran Mainella, who acknowledged that Interior Department officials called the shots on the Yellowstone snowmobile matter.

On the advocacy side, there's Chance Finegan, a young Tennessean who is one of the teenagers the NPS wants to cultivate into park advocates. He's a smart and talented high school senior with plans of one day becoming a park ranger. Lately he's started contributing to the Traveler, adding a new voice and viewpoint that hopefully will lure more teens to the parks.

In the year ahead, I plan to add more voices, and viewpoints, to the Traveler with hopes of expanding its outreach and impact.

With that said, what resolutions might you make that involve the national park system?

Comments

I'm personally most concerned with snowmobiles in Yellowstone. My husband & I have visited several national parks, but have not been as deeply moved as we were upon visiting Yellowstone. Why allow the movement of snowmobiles through the park? For money? Can we not sustain enough revenue during the rest of the year to not allow this? Oh please...can we not let wildlife be for winter?

I resolve to spend more time in 2008 working as a volunteer at Congaree National Park. I also intend to recruit at least one more person for the Volunteers-in-Parks program.