by Daniel Parr, ’07, ’08
Protecting our national parks is a high priority for many of us, but Tom Kiernan, President of the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) can tell you why it should be an utmost priority for all. Kiernan is one of many top speakers SCA is convening at EarthVision: Actions for a Healthy Planet in Washington, DC this April.
Kiernan notes the unfortunate need of many parks to do “less with less,” as a result of staffing and funding shortages, and how that can lead to fewer rangers, neglected trails, and inadequate resources to protect parks from the effects of climate change and pollution.
In his 10 years as President of the NPCA, Kiernan has worked to raise awareness of the issues facing our national parks, helping to pass legislation for increased Congressional funding for their care. He knows there is still a lot more that can be done however, and the volunteers of SCA are exactly the people to do it.
Kiernan will be attending the EarthVision summit for the same reason hundreds of students will be – to discuss the challenges our parks face, and how to take them on at every possible level. That means innovative ideas like those put forth by the Conservation in Action contestants, and individual action by everyone, from simple daily conservation efforts to greater community involvement.
In a recent interview with Grist.org, Kiernan cites a Harris poll in which the American public responded that the National Park Service was the most appreciated of the federal government's services. “People profoundly appreciate the national parks, as much as their local backyard fishing hole, or their local park, or their local national forest or wilderness area,” Kiernan says.
Yet even with widespread support for our parks, many state and federal agencies still rely on volunteer efforts to keep them open and available for all. That is where SCA has delivered for 50 years, and will continue to do so. On April 24-27th, 2008, the 500-strong workforce of EarthVision attendants will give the capital parks hundreds of hours worth of service. Register now to be a part of the team!
Tom Kiernan will be speaking with Jonathan Dorn from Backpacker Magazine and Jonathan Putnam from the National Park Service on EarthVision’s session, “Answering the Call: Preserving Parks & Public Lands.”
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