I’m writing to you with a easy however critically essential request: Please shut national parks instantly. A lot of America’s best parks have already shuttered amenities or paused a few of their companies, like ranger-guided excursions or the canyon shuttle in Zion Park, and 4 of the most-popular western parks—Rocky Mountain, Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon—have already closed in effort to stop the unfold of coronavirus. For the primary time in 50 years, the Grand Canyon is closed to river working. A number of dozen NPS items, from Canaveral Seashore in Florida to Haleakalā Park in Hawaii, are additionally closed. But the overwhelming majority stay open, with out charges.
Now shouldn’t be the time for national parks to be encouraging journey and visitation. As you realize, our single best weapon in opposition to the unfold of coronavirus is to shelter in place and keep away from contact with others. Encouraging individuals to go to the agricultural communities the place many parks are positioned, even tacitly by waiving entrance charges, will expose native residents to better threat of contracting the virus and place their already bare-bones medical infrastructure to even better stress.
I urge you to hearken to your individual workers, like Dustin Stone on the Klondike Gold Rush Historic Park in Skagway, Alaska, who resigned final week in protest over what he noticed as an insufficient response by the Park Service to the coronavirus disaster.
“Throughout a time of national pandemic we’re spending time sitting round and debating and arguing and hemming and hawing about what’s proper,” Stone wrote, “when the fitting factor to do is ship your workers dwelling, shut your parks, and work out what comes subsequent.”
As a publication based on the dedication to open entry to the outside, it’s dismaying that we really feel compelled to argue for any sort of closure to public lands. However there are simply 62 national parks (and 400-plus items within the system). Whether or not you shut all of them or solely these which might be the largest magnets, People nonetheless have entry to most of their national forests, to wild and scenic rivers, Bureau of Land Administration lands, and state, county, and municipal parks.
On this time of disaster, we’d like management and powerful actions. Closing the parks will ship a strong message to all People of the severity of the scenario and the significance of the easy but efficient tactic of simply staying dwelling. Main sports activities leagues woke individuals as much as the stakes once they suspended their seasons a number of weeks in the past. You will have the ability and the platform to make an much more impactful assertion, and most essential to save lots of lives. It gained’t be endlessly, and it may not have to be for lengthy, however please, for the protection of your workers, individuals who stay close to parks, and all different People, shut them now.
Picture of Grand Canyon by Mark Boss