Yellowstone had 1m visitors in July alone. That’s unsustainable for US national parks | Kim Heacox

Yellowstone had 1m visitors in July alone. That’s unsustainable for US national parks | Kim Heacox

National parks are a victim of their own success. They have too many tourists – and too little funding

National parks have been called America’s best idea, and for good reason. Unlike the castles and cathedrals of Europe, they belong to everyone. They are democracy writ large, where a people otherwise fiercely devoted to capitalism say: no, not here. Here the meadow does not become a mall. Here we safeguard the beauty and sanctity of nature. Not as a potted plant or a manicured garden, but as vast, wild, largely untrammeled nature. Our original home.

Mountains, canyons, glaciers, forests, rivers, bison, bears, birds and more. National parks provoke and inspire us. They give us stories, educate us, change us. “For my life to matter, for me to do the work I’m meant to do in the world,” the wildlife biologist and author Mary Beth Baptiste writes in her park-inspired memoir Altitude Adjustment, “I have to spend my days in mountains and forests like these, among people committed to their flourishing. And all they ask in return is a simple renunciation of everything I’ve ever known to be true.”

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