National parks should give people more freedom

This would allow people to connect more with them


Bernard Spragg

Zion National Park, in southern Utah, is a popular national park. “Zion National Park.” by Bernard Spragg is marked with CC0 1.0

Elise Wood, Opinion and Clubs Editor

I’ve spent a lot of time at national parks. I love to be there, and they’re beautiful. However, lately I’ve started to have some frustrations with national parks. Although I appreciate and support the work that’s being done to protect wildlife and nature, I always wish a little more exploring was allowed. I spend as much time as possible outside, and even though national parks are some of the most beautiful places I’ve been, they’re not always my favorites. Sometimes, they feel more like a museum than like the real outdoors. It’s important that national parks continue to protect wildlife, plant life, and geographic formations, but I think there should be a greater freedom for people in these spaces.

The more time people spend in nature, the more willing they are to defend it. And although hiking on a given trail certainly has an impact, careful wandering can expose people to new plants, animals, and sights they would never have seen otherwise, helping them feel more at home outside.

“Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones,” says an article written by Louise Delagran on the University of Minnesota website. For people who take advantage of these benefits, there’s more of an incentive to help protect places like national parks, or even just more of an understanding of the threat to them.

National parks can do a lot to help people spend more time outdoors. However, most people agree that some of the best time they’ve had outside was when they were able to explore more freely, allowing them to better understand what’s out there. It also helps them see more than just what’s obviously pointed out.

The most sustainable cultures have learned to live in harmony with nature. This means respecting the planet without trying to completely separate themselves from it.

According to UN Habitat, “cities consume 78 per cent of the world’s energy and produce more than 60 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.” Although cities have some environmental benefits, like taking up less space, this is a good example of the failings of the ways we’re currently handling climate change and related issues. Trying to separate ourselves from nature completely, like in some cities, is not the right solution.

Learning how to interact with nature appropriately is the only way we’ll be able to really solve climate problems, and national parks can be a great place to start.

The main argument against this is that national parks need to be protected from humans. After all, that’s what national parks are for. Nevertheless, I’ve also seen the importance of places where people can wander freely outside.

I understand the value of having places that are just for wildlife and plants, and I love that national parks provide this. I also think that there should be areas of national parks meant for people to safely explore without a trail.

At some state parks, there are places like this. Allowing people to step off the trail where safe for the people and wildlife can help them understand the importance of nature much better, and it’s important that this is open to children as well as adults. As a result, having areas in national parks where people have more freedom can help the national park as well.