The National Park System (NPS) has had a pretty thrilling 365 days. Last spring and summer, they were everyone’s darling, with NPS 100 celebrations around the nation — culminating with free entry at all parks on August 25th. In the fall, they benefitted from Barack Obama’s flurry of late-term conservation moves. First, he expanded the already-gigantic Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (making it the largest of its kind anywhere), then he finished his term by creating the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada.
The message of Obama’s administration was clear: Public spaces, managed by the NPS, are vital to the broader conservation efforts of our nation. Or as he said himself in June, while spending Father’s Day with his family at Yosemite:
“We have to have the foresight and the faith in the future to protect our parks and to protect our planet for the generations to come.”
But with regime change came a new agenda, one which the parks system would naturally feel threatened by. President Donald Trump has called climate change a hoax and had all mention of it scrubbed from the White House website, while the GOP hopes to put federal property in the hands of states (which could then potentially issue fracking or mining leases). It should be no surprise that an agency whose mission is conservation and preservation of natural resources bristled a little.