If you’ve been following along on the Roanline blog, then you’ve probably heard of theParks Project, the organization dedicated to helping maintain our National Parks through the creation of quality, sustainable goods that benefit a slew of the country’s largest National Parks. While there are a few parks in particular that they work to benefit, the company overall has helped to generate both interest and revenue for projects and issues that were given very little attention previously.
Founded by two former TOMS employees, the Parks Project has successfully managed to put the far-off goal of cleaning up our National Parks on the radar, and with the help of an already loyal group of buyers and volunteers alike, the day in which our National Parks will be maintained full-time by an army of passionate volunteers may be in the not-so-distant future. That said, with unprecedented visitor numbers in the last couple of years and the recent partial government shutdown coming to a close, the National Parks are facing somewhat of a crisis, and one that will rely on a quality, lasting network of outdoor enthusiasts and volunteers to solve.
During the shutdown alone, when parks were unable to maintain full staff, places like Joshua Tree suffered up to 200 years’ worth of damage, including downed trees, trash build-up, and campsite damage due to both illegal fires and offroad vehicles.
Other parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Glacier sustained damage in the form of trash left behind by visitors, including overflowing restrooms, garbage cans, and other normally maintained facilities.
Due to the protected nature of the National Parks, the land in most of our country’s greatest wilderness is extremely sensitive, and requires constant care to maintain, and, in worst cases, repair. In the case of places like Joshua Tree, the top layer of soil on the protected lands provides a unique and delicate balance of nutrients that supports the growth of the Joshua Trees and other native flora. Despite volunteers’ and park employees’ best efforts to maintain the parks in the absence of official staff, many of the parks are still dealing with aftermath as they prepare for peak visiting season in the spring and summer months.
As many of our National Parks and Monuments reopen to visitors this week, it’s important to remember that, for many of the parks, the busiest seasons are yet to come, and with the recent cleanup efforts needed to just reopen the doors, many of the parks are already in need of extra hands. Chances are, you live near a National Park or a National Monument that experienced difficult during the last month or so, but even if you don’t, here are a couple of tips for helping our country’s wilderness areas to get back on track.
The easiest option to provide immediate impact on the National Parks and other protected wilderness areas is to simply volunteer. Though it may not feel like much, even a few hours on the weekend will go a long way when multiplied across a few thousand people. For official information on volunteering, check out volunteer.gov. If you’re interested in volunteering in a particular park or region, feel free to visit individual park pages on who to contact for hours, time slots, and other important information. Our friends at the Parks Project also sponsor organized service days, which can be found on their website alongside resources for starting your very own volunteer day.
Whether you’re a weekend warrior, day-tripper, or lifetime backpacker, visiting the National Parks is a privilege that should be shared by all. The outdoors has long since been a place where everyone can connect with themselves, those around them, and nature itself, and preserving that reality is the number one goal of the National Parks and Monuments around the country. If you aren’t interested the various volunteer opportunities, or you’ve already planned a big trip, do your part to help the parks recover simply by being a responsible visitor. When it comes to preserving the state of the wild, there’s no substitute for dedicated Leave No Trace practices.
If the outdoors just aren’t your cup of tea, we get it! Not everyone is a fan of getting outside, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still support efforts to keep the wild how it is. Supporting the Parks Project is an amazing way to stay plugged in to the conservation movement without having to get your hands dirty. A variety of Parks Project gear can be purchased right here at Roanline.com or at our brick-and-mortar store in downtown Asheville. Pick your favorite design and support a much-needed cause; it’s a win-win when it comes to conscious capitalism.
It’s not often we’re given the chance to have such a huge impact on the National Parks’ future. With our help, parks like Joshua Tree, The Great Smoky Mountains, and the Grand Canyon can continue to host visitors from all over the world while still maintaining protected land for nature and wildlife to thrive for years to come. Simply by sharing the needs and opportunities available, you can make a difference in the future of the great outdoors.
Interested in how you can do more? Visit the Parks Project website for more information on getting involved.
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