There was plenty of wide open spaces in the United States at the turn of the century, but no national parks. Teddy Roosevelt realized that encroaching civilization might threaten his beloved hunting and fishing, so he decided to do something about it. He established the conservation department and the national parks department to make sure that places like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon would remain wild and open to the public.
During the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt established the WPA and they built cabins in the parks and made numerous other improvements like supplying them with electricity and drinkable water, so tourists could stop and admire the natural beauty. And so the tourism industry was born.
Two of my favorite parks right here in Missouri that might be endangered are state parks: Washington State Park and Meramec State Park. Washington State park, near DeSoto, Missouri, is the largest of the two. It has a large variety of animal and plant life. It was also an area where a large Indian population once lived and they have left behind a wide variety of interesting petroglyphs.
Meramec State Park butts up against one of the largest and most beautiful caves in Missouri, Meramec Caverns. It also has the Meramec River running through it and is one of the most popular camping and floating areas in the state.
But now Bush and the Republicans over the past few years have opened up some the park land and auctioned it off to the highest bidder. Some of it has been sold for development and some of it for oil exploration. A lot of the old growth forests have been cut down to supply lumber to the construction industry.
Now there's yet another threat to the national parks. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, A new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Rocky Mountain Climate Organization identified 25 national parks most at risk from climate change.
A few of the notables include: Yellowstone, Glacier, Acadia, Everglades, Great Smoky and Zion National Parks.
From a public relation's standpoint, now is probably a pretty good time to release a report like this. Just this week, EPA announced it plans on regulating greenhouse gases for the first time, climate change legislation is introduced in the Senate and the Ken Burns documentary on our park system began airing this week.