In today’s overpopulated world, conservation of natural environment and wilderness is very imperative. National parks, wildlife sanctuaries and maintenance of space to expose nature not only enhances the beauty of a country but also benefit us in many ways. The aim of most of the natural parks is joint, i.e., to provide nature, recreation, walking, camping, and enjoyment opportunities to the people. The rocky coastlines, winding canyons, and deserts of 59 national parks of the US have been trademarks of vacations for generations. The United States has the privilege to flaunt some fantastic scenic environments for its people. The first natural park in the US was constructed in 1872 and named as Yellowstone National Park. Other than parks, there are also wildlife sanctuaries maintained by countries with a purpose to protect and safeguard the wildlife and provide them with the most natural environment. All the recreational sites are constructed with a goal to preserve wildlife, landscapes, with outstanding views of lakes, mountains, and rivers, etc. Parks and sanctuaries also serve the purpose of preservation of history. A lot of national parks in the US have also maintained trail system that offers wide-ranging routes for exploration by foot. The national parks in the US not only attract the visitors from within the country but also the tourists from countries all around the globe. According to a report of National Park Service Website 2016, 30,971,689 people visited National Parks in the US. Amongst the most visited national parks include Great Smokey Mountain, Grand Canyon National Park, and Rocky Mountain National Park, etc.
If one delves down into the history of National Parks in the US, the government has always been open-hearted to their citizens, and everyone was allowed to visit the parks. But recently, the overcrowding in the national and wilderness parks of the US has started creating problems for management. Zion National Park emerged as one sufferer of this issue. The spokesperson of the park mentioned that enormous amount of visitation had overwhelmed their infrastructure, facilities, backgrounds, landscapes, management plans, and resources. He was apparently of the view that they need to come up with a feasible management plan so that the experience of the visitors is enhanced. This is one of the many examples of the sufferers of the same issue. When the parks are overwhelmed by huge visitations, not only the preservation of resources gets difficult, but the individual user experience is also deteriorated. Protection of landscape is not the only purpose of such place. These places hold inside of them, a spirit which also needs to be preserved. Moving towards the most promiscuous national park of the US, Yellowstone National Park. An article published in “theguardian” on August 24, 2016, claimed that the overcrowding in Yellowstone is creating problems for the management. It has raised severe concerns about the wildlife preservation and safety. Just like Zion, and Yellowstone, there are a lot many other parks which are facing the likewise issues. Let’s discuss what kind of problems can arise due to overwhelming visitation.
Human psychology has a profound impact on how one behaves with his fellow brother. Overcrowding can lead to an unusual demeanor of people which can create many problems for the management. Considering wilderness and national parks overcrowding, the safety of the people become a little bit out of control. The number of visitors in the parks has exceeded too much, and it not only frustrates the visitors and tourists but also creates environmental problems for the management. In 2016, the National Park Service recorded 331 million visits, and the number has always exceeded since then. The facilities provided by the parks suffer too much because of the load. The violation between humans and animals and flora & fauna of the park gets increased. Some incidents get so severe that they end up becoming headline news. Human psychology is complicated to understand and manage. When the visitors become too much, and each of them demands facilitating and natural environment then it becomes quite difficult to satisfy each of them. People often lose control over themselves and jump out of their cars when they see an animal like a bear. Behavior like such is natural but at the same time frustrating for the heads. The next section of the essay would focus on how we can deal with the overcrowding of the parks.
So the big questions here is that should we limit the number of visitors to the national and wilderness parks. If we just compare the number of visitors between two consecutive years of 2015 and 2016, the number has increased by a whopping factor of 23.7 million. To answer such awe-inspiring number, the spokesperson of National Park Service said that national parks draw more visitors than themed parks like Disneyland, NBA, NASCAR, etc. combined. Yellowstone management also claimed that increase in the number of visitors is not proportional to the park’s capacity to handle. Due to some inhuman accidents in parks, rangers also issued several warnings about threatening wildlife and approaching them very close, etc. Such incidents can be avoided if the number of visitors is contained to some affordable but flexible number. But the critical point is that containment of visitors is not the only solution. Instead of abandoning people to enter the park, one can focus on the infrastructure of the parks to handle greater people. More walking paths can be introduced; parking spots can also be expanded shuttle services can be increased as well. More funds and resources should be allocated to the park management so they can better handle the significant visitations. Not only the landscape but the spirit of national and wilderness parks should also be preserved.
- “How A Surge in Visitors Is Overwhelming America’s National Parks.” Yale E360, e360.yale.edu/features/greenlock-a-visitor-crush-is-overwhelming-americas-national-parks.
- DiLonardo, Mary Jo. “Should we limit visitors at national parks?” MNN – Mother Nature Network, Mother Nature Network, 3 Aug. 2017, mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/should-we-limit-visitors-national-parks.
- Turkewitz, Julie, and Ruth Fremson. “National Parks Struggle With a Mounting Crisis: Too Many Visitors.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 27 Sept. 2017, nytimes.com/2017/09/27/us/national-parks-overcrowding.html.
- Press, The Associated. “National Park Service considers visitor caps, expects record crowds.” The Denver Post, The Denver Post, 29 May 2016, www.denverpost.com/2016/05/29/park-service-considers-visitor-caps-expects-record-crowds/.