The scale of the threat to our heritage across our 412 national parks and monuments has become dangerously apparent and the guardians of America’s most treasured places have been handed an almost unimaginable new job. Hiring freezes, decreased funding, gag orders, and societies lack of personal connection to wildness, is a reflection of our social and political divisiveness towards the preservation of our most valued natural resource. Our National Parks have seen the loss of glaciers, sea levels rise, and an increase in wildfires spurred by rising temperatures in recent years. According to the National Park Service (NPS), the number of glaciers at Glacier NP has halved since 1968 and is on course to completely disappear by the middle of the century. Our wildfire season in the west is far lengthier than it was in the 70’s because temperatures across the US have risen by about 2.4 degrees F in the past century. Preserving our national parks, therefore, means also caring for the lands, watersheds and air quality that surround them. Right now it seems that the EPA’s scientific facts collide with current political realities. We get it, maintaining and protecting this public resource is expensive. According to a recent article published by the Denver Post, more than a third of all trails in our park system are rated in poor condition and have been for decades. Maintenance backlogs are in the billions and at this rate, if the feds surrender control and slough it off onto the states that can’t pay to care for it all, it could mean they will be forced to sell off public land to private industries and investors, shutting off access and allowing degradation of habitat. Lack of preservation would certainly lead to harm because these resources depend on shared ecosystems, for example migratory animals, salmon runs, rivers, etc. We’d hate to see our parks turn into a type of Disneyland that allows corporate sponsorship to for instance, permit “Arches National Park Brought to You by McDonalds’s” signs posted at every trailhead.
We here at Goldpaint Photography believe that our Public Lands need to remain public and wild, not drilled, logged and sold off to the highest bidder. The Park Service doesn’t need corporate sponsorship, it needs proper funding. We want our Public Lands protected because we value our wilderness areas as a sanctuary, place of worship, and a safe place to experience our dark skies in spite of increasing urban sprawl. In the midst of such social and environmental turmoil, we feel it our responsibility to continue to set an example of good stewardship, responsible advocacy, and to create a safe environment for our friends, family, clients, followers, and students. Oh, and if you can, let a park ranger know that you appreciate his/her work in protecting these special lands. By engaging in honest dialogue, demonstrating empathy, and consistently living as positive examples, we hope to inspire you to actively participate in any way you can to protect our wilderness heritages. Let your wildness shine!