From April 18-26, the U.S. government is celebrating National Parks Week. To “Find Your Park,” the National Park Service has set up a website that does just that.
“We’ve got fun events taking place in national parks all across the country,” NPS writes, “including wildflower walks, history talks, and wildlife tours. There’s sure to be an event for you!”
Families can also benefit from President Obama’s “Every Kid in a Park” initiative, which gives fourth grade students and their families a full year of free admission to National Park and federal lands and waters throughout the country.
“From sea to shining sea, our country is home to gorgeous landscapes, vibrant waterways, and historic treasures that all Americans can enjoy,” announced the White House blog in February. “But right now, young people are spending more time in front of screens than outside, and that means they are missing out on valuable opportunities to explore, learn, and play in the spectacular outdoor places that belong to all of them.”
The initiative also offers transportation grants to schools that would otherwise be unable to bring their kids to parks on field trips and provides educational materials for K-12 teachers to use in their lesson plans, science labs and field trips.
Of course, the size of America’s “historic treasures” may soon be reduced, if Congressional Republicans manage to pass what critics are calling the “No More National Parks” bill. In January, Congressman Don Young (R-AK) introduced House Resolution 330, which would amend the 1906 Antiquities Act and strip the President of his ability to protect public lands and historic sites and establish marine protected areas (MPAs). Currently, the President has sole authority to create these protected areas; HR330 would put that power under Congressional approval.
Alex Taurel, Deputy Legislative Director at the League of Conservation Voters, has said that the ‘No More National Parks’ bill shows “how out of step with the American people [Rep. Young] truly is.”
“Americans value our National Parks and iconic areas like Grand Canyon and Statue of Liberty,” said Taurel, “but this legislation would attack the century-old law that has helped protect them.”
Unfortunately, a similar bill, HR1459, has already been passed by the House.