There is something refreshing about a gorgeous fall day.
Personally, I can’t resist a walk through the woods on such a day. It’s my way to get away from it all.
As I walked through the woods over the weekend, I was reminded of how thankful I am for parks and conservation programs that help preserve these getaways for us.
President Lyndon B. Johnson, on the signing of the Wilderness Act of 1964, recognized that “if future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them with 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 go through with it.” (National Forest Foundation). In order to do that, we must take steps to preserve and protect America’s parks.
4 Steps to Supporting Your Parks
1. Google It.
The easiest way to find information on parks near you is to pull up your preferred search engine (e.g., Google). Search for “local parks near [insert your City].” You can search by state by typing the following search into the search bar: “[insert your State] state park directory.” An informal directory of all state parks can be accessed here. Finally, if you’re looking for a national park, you can browse an online directory by state.
When searching for a park to visit and support, remember that not all parks are managed equally. Some factors that may be important to you include source of funding (e.g., federal grants, access fees, etc.), services provided (e.g., educational programs, hiking options, pets welcome), and political involvement (e.g., lobbying efforts).
2. Use it.
Once you’ve located a park you’d like to support, visit it. Explore. After all, America’s parks embody the American spirit. “They are windows to our past, homes to some of our rarest plants and animal species, and places where every American can go to find inspiration, peace, and open space.” (National Parks Conservation Association.)
3. Maintain It.
Parks departments across the country have faced (and continue to face) budget shortfalls and fewer resources. Volunteer to perform routine upkeep on the grounds. Help improve waste disposal/removal systems on the park grounds to prevent littering. Host a bake sale to raise funds for the parks staff and programs. Donate your money and time.
4. Publicize It.
Spread the word. Take pictures of the park’s natural beauties and post the pictures on Facebook and Twitter. Make flyers publicizing the park’s programs and resources and post them at the local branch of your library, local churches, or your kid’s school.
Consider getting involved with the park maintenance board. Some parks have “Friends Groups” through the National Park Foundation that you could get involved with. If your park doesn’t have a Friends Group, consider starting one.
At the end of the day, it takes a community to support and upkeep our parks.