Across the country are state and national parks containing breathtaking views of mountains, lakes, rivers, and countless other interesting landscapes and natural features. Many of these places are also home to amazing, diverse wildlife, there to be seen by any visitors fortunate enough to cross their path. They are places of calm, a refuge from the noise and pollution of everyday life, and beloved by millions both in the US and around the world.
Unfortunately, these spaces are going through a time of difficulty now, beset by a number of phenomena that threaten their character and existence. Without decisive action, it is possible that the pristine parks of today will be greatly diminished in years to come.
Here is a look at some of the problems they face, and how environmental professionals can help.
Graduates of Environmental Programs May Need to Solve Overcrowding at Parks
Admiration for America’s parks has proven to be a problem, with recent years seeing enormous increases in visitor traffic. Zion National Park in Utah is a notable example, its annual visitor count of 4.3 million in 2017 about double what it was in 2010.
With this kind of explosion in popularity come some troubling consequences. Maintenance work, for example, is impossible to keep up with. Search and rescue teams, too, can be stretched to operational limits. Other issues, like littering, trail erosion, and damage to local plant life also place extra strain on parks and their native wildlife and diminish the outdoor experience for many visitors.
There have been a number of proposed solutions, including restricting access to some parks at particularly busy times, encouraging visitors to go to other, less busy parks, and educating people about proper park etiquette.
There is no blanket solution that will be appropriate for all parks experiencing overcrowding, which is why graduates of natural resource management degree programs can add so much value to the conversation. Their understanding of land use and disturbance patterns, as well as their legacies, can provide important guidance for what steps to take on a case by case basis.
Territory Designated for Park Use Needs to be Protected From Development
For some time now, there has been some discussion and political action toward reducing the amount of territory devoted to some national parks and monuments, and to selling some others outright. This land might end up being developed for various industrial purposes, losing much of its character and attraction for people who love the natural world.
If these proposals gain traction, advocacy and political action could be required on the opposite side, and environmental science experts will be necessary to make the case for the development of sensible ecological policy that will protect these spaces. Professionals with a natural resource management master’s degree will be well prepared to take on this role.
At institutions like Unity College, seasoned experts train the next generation of environmental professionals to communicate the value of the natural world to diverse audiences. They also teach important skills in critically evaluating policy proposals relating to the environment. This skill set, combined with a bit of determination, could help bring to light the importance of defending preserved spaces, and protect vulnerable parks from being sold or developed.
Do you want to become an expert in the natural world?
Contact Unity College to learn more about our environmental programs!