Saturday, April 28, 2018

Enjoying, Protecting our National Parks

Two summers ago, while in Oregon, Taylor and I took a few days away from Portland where we were visiting our daughter to head over to the north coast.

We stayed in Seaside, the town where Lewis and Clark finally reached the Pacific Ocean after their landmark trek across the country. Intrigued with that history, we took an afternoon to explore the Lewis & Clark National and State Historical Park in Astoria, Oregon. It was then that we learned about a National Park entrance pass, which is a very fine thing indeed that admits you to all the wonders that the National Park Service (and other federally-managed public areas) has to offer from coast to coast. All of this comes to mind right now because April 21 - 29 is National Park week.

According to the NPS website, the national park system includes 417 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state and American territories and includes parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historic parks and sites, lake and seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails and even the White House.  This link lists them all.

I am sorry to say that I’ve been to relatively few of the national parks.  We’ve discussed, but not yet taken, trips to the big parks like Yellowstone or Grand Canyon. Believe me, they are on my bucket list, and I am envious of the people who are well on their way to achieving the goal of visiting them all. 

But we have a number of wonderful areas and sites in the National Park system right here in Georgia -- including the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, and the southernmost point of the Appalachian (National Scenic) Trail right in, or not far from, the Atlanta area.  Click here to find all that the NPS oversees in Georgia, and get inspired to explore.

From the mountains to the coasts, for those who love the natural and the diverse beauty and history of this country, the work done by the NPS to preserve these treasures is very important. If you care, it’s worth supporting organizations like the National Park Foundation or even volunteering with the NPS or one of its partners. It’s also worth noting that the NPS is a bureau of the Department of the Interior, whose director is appointed by the President of the United States, who may choose to take new directions or introduce new initiatives. Keeping up with and letting your congressperson know how you feel about such things is also a way to support the NPS in its efforts to protect our natural lands.

At Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, NW Oregon coast
Taylor keeps his NPS pass in his wallet. It’s such a deal that it not only admits him, but the both of us! Doubt I’ll ever see all the parks and sites on my list, but I do look forward to continuing to discover and experience many more of the gorgeous, wild, ecological and educational areas that are protected by the National Park Service. 

Peach Passion blog is written by Fran Putney, writer, editor, storyteller and Principal at Intown Communications.

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