It’s here! April 20-28, 2019 marks National Park Week! Join the National Park Service, National Park Foundation and people across the US as we celebrate America’s Best Idea. This has been a tough year for the national parks. They were hit hard by the government shutdown and they are still recovering. So to celebrate this week, we are highlighting some ways to give back to the national parks and help in the effort to restore these beautiful areas of the US.
1. Donate to the National Parks Foundation
This fund was opened in January after the government shutdown in partnership with the National Park Service to “assess the damage and provide the resources to coordinate projects such as natural habitat restoration, graffiti removal, and other volunteer efforts”. Your money will go directly to what the NPS deems necessary at the time.
Our friends at MillionMileSecrets wrote an insightful guide on donating to the national parks, outlining how to give back and (BONUS) save on your trip in the process. From workplace matching to AmazonSmile, Meghan offers some great tips. Check that out here.
Whether you grab a few friends and head to a park near your home, or you join an organized group, one of the best ways to give back is to give your time. The National Park Service offers a variety of opportunities as part of the Volunteers-In-Parks program and our friends at Parks Project organize volunteer projects across the country.
Plus, if you log more than 250 service hours, you’ll get a free Volunteer Pass for entrance to all national park and federal recreation lands.
Photo Credit: DeLong Family
3. Give the Rangers some love
The Park Rangers were also deeply affected by the shutdown. They were left unsure when they would receive their next paycheck or when they would be able to return to work. And they have been working tirelessly ever since to ensure the parks are not only up and running, but cleaned up and ready for the millions of visitors they will receive this summer. In some instances, toilets were overflowing, trash was scattered on trails, and illegal campfires were set. When the Rangers returned after the shutdown, they had a lot of work in front of them. At Death Valley, one bathroom took staff two hours to clean fully. One bathroom.
So whether it’s a handshake or a hug, let the Rangers know you appreciate them. They deserve it.
4. Practice Leave No Trace
This is something you should do all the time, but it is especially important this year. Refresh yourself on Leave No Trace principles and set a goal to make the parks better than how you found it. Leave only footprints and take only pictures.
Photo Credit: Aguilar Family
By visiting our national parks, you are supporting our national parks. Enjoy the natural beauty that has been preserved, marvel in the wonders of this Earth, and be appreciative of the fact that we have these lands available to us. And please be extra careful, be loving to our shared planet.