What Are Your Priorities For the National Parks?
And yet the post that far and away has gained the most attention explored whether we should allow concealed weapons in the parks.
Indeed, you could add up all the "reads" of the first three posts I mentioned and they'd barely equal half of the roughly 700 reads the gun post has garnered since it went up Sunday afternoon. Whereas there have been two comments made, collectively, to those first three posts, there have been 40 attached to the gun post.
Has our American society become so fearful of venturing out into the open that we're more concerned with whether we have a loaded weapon to protect ourselves than we are about whether 1) our parks are becoming polluted by non-native species, 2) we want to have an incredible vacation rafting the Colorado River through the world's most famous canyon, or 3) we as a nation are adequately supporting and investing in our national parks?
Not that I wish to draw the gun lobby's ire, but I have to question whether we've lost some much-needed perspective concerning the value the national parks provide society.
I've been roaming national parks for better than four decades now, and not once have I felt my personal safety compromised by a fellow human being or a wild animal. And yet I can clearly see the adverse effects of underfunding our parks, of the dwindling ranks of rangers to lead interpretive programs that excite and engage our youth and encourage new and stronger park advocates.
I've traveled the crumbling roads of Yellowstone and Sequoia and Mount Rainier and recognized the threats they pose fellow park travelers. I've reported on the parks' leaking sewage systems and the external threats that slowly are choking our national parks, on the budgets that don't provide the money necessary to perform regular maintenance or protect the parks' natural resources, on the motorized "recreation" that tears and pollutes the resources and adversely impacts the flora and fauna.
Combined, these threats pose a significant obstacle to the National Park Service's core mission, of conserving these resources for the enjoyment of today's and tomorrow's generations.
Another threat I see, judging from the past few days' traffic, is that the debate over legalizing concealed carry in the parks will continue to rage ever so strongly while our parks languish because we've lost sight of the very things that make them the world-class treasures that they've long been recognized as.