National Parks in Trouble

I’ve written of the problems of crowds and traffic in Yellowstone National Park (read here).

Now the Denver Post has an extensive article on the problems faced by a number of western national parks and the communities that surround them.

Essentially we are loving our parks – to death. Add in the problems of climate change and the parks future looks dire.

More people. More traffic. More rudeness. More disregard for litter. More disregard for wilderness sanitation.

At the same time, visitors are expecting the same amenities they supposedly left behind in the urge to find a wilderness experience. The National Park Service is expanding cell coverage in the parks and allowing vendors such as Starbucks in Yosemite.

Wear and tear on roads and buildings have created a backlog of upgrades for the National Park Service of over $11 billion.

The parks themselves have infrastructure that is over 50 years old, and was built for crowds much smaller than what visit the parks today.

To cite only one example, consider the problems of human waste in Yellowstone.  In 2017, the park pumped 248,889 gallons from its 153 toilets and other septic systems, a 19% increase over 2016. Visitors also run through an average of 1,710 toilet paper rolls a day.

People used to go to the park for solitude and to see the geology and animals. Now they go to snap pictures of themselves. Celebration of the self over the needs of others.

The question is how will the parks survive in the age of Facebook and Starbucks?

You can read the Denver Post article here.

Author: Tom

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