Tuesday, July 12, 2016

An American Idea

By: Callie Ball

If you are looking for a vacation idea, here’s one: visit a National Park. With 390 parks to choose from there is no shortage of diversity. Take in the views from atop a volcano in Hawaii, witness climate change for yourself at Glacier National Park or traverse the labyrinth of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or just looking to reconnect with nature for a weekend, there is something for everyone.
Considered to be America’s best idea, it’s hard to imagine the United States without its National Parks. The idea to protect the best of nature dates back long before 1916 and the government declared vast amounts of land to be under federal protection before then. Yet, the idea was not welcomed by all. Many people had commercial, and therefore, political interests in the resources the Parks offer. But the idea really took off when Theodore Roosevelt became President. He and John Muir were the two main driving forces behind the protection of American land and by the time Roosevelt left office, over 100 million acres had come under federal protection.
Even though there was now a system in place to care for the nation’s natural treasures there was no order to it. If you wanted to visit the parks you had to blaze your own trail. There were no walking trails, information centers or guides; it was true wilderness. That changed in 1933 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into effect the Civilian Conservation Core or CCC. At the height of the Great Depression the CCC was a saving grace for the some 3 million Americans it employed. In its 9 years the CCC planted around 3 billion trees, constructed bridges and built over 13 thousand miles of trails.
So if you need to take a break from the modern, fast paced, technologically obsessed world we live in, visit a National Park. What you will see is the work of past generations and of present generations who believe that parts of this earth should be kept safe in all their magnificent beauty. With how fast the world is changing, it’s comforting to know that there will be a few things in this world that future generations will be able to see as we saw it.
“If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.” – Lyndon B. Johnson


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