This year marks a special anniversary for our national parks. One hundred years ago (August 25, 1916) the National Parks Service was created by President Woodrow Wilson to protect and manage our national parks and monuments. Many of our country’s most famous national parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone pre-date the parks service and the bulk of our parks and national forests were established by President Theodore Roosevelt during his administration (1901-1909). Today these parks are visited by millions of people each year and it’s more important than ever to protect the wildlife and resources within them.
So how does climate change fit into this picture? Climate change threatens the sensitive
species and landscapes that make our national parks so unique and worth our protection. What will we call Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska when there are no more glaciers in the bay because they have all melted? What will we call Joshua Tree National Park when extensive drought have caused populations of the gnarled tree to dwindle? Rising sea levels threaten dozens of endangered species that make their home in the everglades of Florida.
Special attention is being drawn to this cause during the centennial celebration of our National Parks Service. Without attention and research devoted to understanding and protecting these imperiled landscapes, we may lose them forever (or at least their namesakes).