From Sea to Shining Sea: Protect Our National Parks
August 24, 2016
In June, from stage of Yosemite national park, President Obama warned that climate change is “no longer a threat, it’s a reality.” He is the first sitting president to visit Yosemite since John F Kennedy in 1962.
“Rising temperatures could mean no more glaciers in Glacier national park, no more Joshua trees in Joshua Tree national park. Rising seas can destroy vital ecosystems in the Everglades and at some point could even threaten icons like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. That’s not the America I want to pass on to the next generation.”
During his visit, he also cited University of California research on national park changes due to climate change; dried out meadows, shifting bird ranges, and higher temperatures. President Obama has made it a personal mission to protect America’s landscapes. Five new national monuments were designated across the US:
- Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico
- San Juan Islands National Monument, Washington State
- Harriet Tubman National Monument, Maryland
- Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument, Ohio
- Delaware Historic Sites, Delaware
The largest of the new national monuments include 24,000 acres of animal habitat, outdoor recreational areas, and water sources are protected at Rio Grande del Norte, demonstrating President Obama’s commitment to conservation. The protection of San Juan Islands of Washington’s coast will boost tourism, help the local economy, and protect 1,000 acres of land. In Maryland, the Harriet Tubman National Monument will include the protection of sites such as the home site of Jacob Jackson, a free black farmer who helped Tubman rescue her brothers from slavery. The Charles Young was the third African American to graduate from West Point and the first to reach the rank of colonel; his home is now protected. Finally, the Delaware Historic sites pay tribute to the early history of Swedish, Dutch and English settlers.
This step towards expanding our national parks will hopefully be built upon by future presidents—ones that accept that science of climate change.