The National Park Service and other federal land-management agencies have recently received some much-needed financial support that is intended to sponsor and encourage higher levels of outdoor recreation on the part of the American public. The continued spread of COVID-19 has plagued the nation with a myriad of health problems, including the fact that many are struggling to remain in shape and eat healthy, so the recent financial package is largely being welcomed as a much-needed step in the right direction for public health.
In the past few years, many have been concerned that America’s beloved national parks would be left behind by the current administration, as President Trump’s budget proposal sought to cut over half a billion dollars in funding to the Park Service budget. The United States Senate has just passed Senator Cory Gardner’s Great American Outdoors Act, however, which provides upwards of $9.5 billion over the next few years to agencies like the National Park Service.
Other recent legislative acts are also worth celebrating; back in March, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio issued a press release celebrating the bipartisan passage and signing into law of a bill intended to save America’s national parks, which are beloved by wide swathes of the public. Americans love to spend money on outdoor recreation, camping, the monthly cigar club, and other recreational activities, but relatively little money had been allocated towards the national parks in recent years until these legislative efforts.
Many reports have accurately called America's national parks one of our best ideas, as no other country in the world allocated resources and legal protection to national parks until the United States did so in the 1800s. Back in 2016, polling data illustrated that America’s national parks have never been more popular than they are in modern times, demonstrating the long-lasting positive impact the decision to create and maintain these parks was in the first place. At a time when a historically low number of Americans are taking pride in their country, these efforts to rejuvenate our national parks are highly-welcomed, as they’ll contribute to national unity and public health alike at a time when both are sorely needed.
Some national parks are far more popular than others, the world-famous Yosemite, for instance, draws in huge sums of domestic and international tourists each year. Others, like the Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska, are visited by far fewer people, often because they’re less accessible to many tourists and seldom featured in popular media. Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, and the Grand Canyon are all examples of monstrously popular national parks that have an internationally-recognized image of natural splendor and tourism value.
Additional financial support will be needed in the future to maintain the pristine nature and accessibility of our national parks, but these recent funding efforts have saved them in the short-run. While tourism and cross-border travel are obviously diminished right now, we can all rest assured that this nation’s national parks will be open for business when the public health pandemic subsides.
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