The United States is home to 63 national parks. The breathtaking parks are commonly used as vacation spots but are in danger. These parks have experienced significant side effects from climate change, and these changes are projected to continue.
The park service aims to protect natural resources that fill national parks. National parks are essential because they provide critical environmental products, including clean air and water, healthy soil, and protected wildlife species. Preserving and keeping these natural spaces free from industrial production has benefited plant life.
National parks are in danger due to sources beyond their borders, including overcrowding during specific times of the year, air quality issues, insufficient maintenance, and invasive species. Although, each park may suffer from a particular source of danger.
The blanket danger for all national parks is climate change, which poses the greatest threat to the breathtaking landscapes. The main priority of these parks is to protect important wildlife and keep species from going extinct. The debate over whether to continue protecting these parks continues.
According to a national park vulnerability assessment completed in 2021 by the Natural Resource Stewardship and Science, determined that nearly 75% of national parks are at risk of experiencing the impacts of climate change.
National parks along the coast may struggle with rising sea levels, while parks in the west may be more affected by tree mortality and increased wildfires.
The Everglades National Park, which protects several endangered species, is at risk for flooding caused by higher ocean levels. These potential floods could push native wildlife that cannot survive in salt water out of the area, leaving them unprotected and vulnerable.
Yellowstone National Park has been plagued with significant floods and mudslides. On top of this, the park has also suffered from fires, warmer temperatures, drought, and bark beetles. Climate change and invasive species pose a severe threat to the park.
Lastly, the Colorado Rocky Mountains National Park is currently highly vulnerable. The National Park has seen a 3.4-degree increase in average annual temperature over the past century. This drastic change can result in shorter winters and less water availability for wildlife and plants in the summer.
Overall, many national parks will experience lower air quality, ultimately affecting the health of the park's visitors and wildlife living in them. The loss of ice and snow levels due to rising temperatures can impact wildlife by removing their water access. On top of the already stated effects, certain parks may be affected by increased storms and flooding.
There are several things that the public can do to help reduce the impact of climate change on national parks. These include minimizing waste, reducing carbon footprints, not disturbing wildlife while visiting the parks, staying on hiking trails, and staying at appropriate camping areas.
While the government continues to protect the parks through the Clean Air and Water Acts, the public can pitch in by doing their part at home to reduce the rate at which climate change grows. Targeting climate change and reducing its environmental impact is critical in saving national parks.
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