Reader Participation Day: What is the Greatest Threat To Our National Parks?
It seems not a week goes by without some issue being identified as a threat to the national parks. One week it might be funding woes, another week pollution, another diversity concerns, and then, of course, there's climate change.
So, from the following list, which do you think poses the greatest threat to our national parks? And if your concern is not on the list, please tell us what it is.
* Funding issues. It's been often reported that the National Park Service has a maintenance backlog of about $9 billion. And, of course, there's the issue of annual funding in general for the Park Service. Is Congress spending too little on the parks, or is the Park Service not as fiscally fit as it could be?
* Pollution. Whether it's ground-level ozone at Acadia or Great Smoky Mountains national parks, air quality in general at places such as Shenandoah and Sequoia national parks, or heavy metals and acid rain deposition in the Sierra, Rockies, or Appalachian parks there are plenty of pollution issues that can be cited across the National Park System.
* Diversity. This is a two-pronged issue, as there are concerns over both a lack of diversity in park visitors and within the NPS ranks.
* Climate change. Is this, as Park Service Director Jon Jarvis has said, "fundamentally the greatest threat to the integrity of our national parks that we have ever experienced"?
* Visitation. This also is a two-pronged issue, as some worry that the parks are not being seen by enough visitors, while others argue that places such as the Yosemite Valley, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and Old Faithful in Yellowstone are overrun with visitors in the summer months.
* Inholdings. There are many cases across the National Park System where pockets of private property exist within the borders of a national park. And earlier this year there were news stories about a developer who was buying up parcels to build multi-million-dollar homes on them. Is the Park Service's inability, due to lack of funding, to buy these parcels harming the integrity of the parks?
* Motorized recreation. How great a threat are snowmobiles, personal watercraft, and off-road vehicles to national parks?