As we celebrate the National Parks’ 100 Year Anniversary, we should remember that these places need our protection. Just because Yosemite or Zion National Park are indeed protected as National Parks, the designation along does not mean we – those that revere and escape to these patches of nature – can just sit back and expect the Federal Government to steward these lands without public input or leadership. With this in mind, rock climbing legend and perennial Yosemite resident, Alex Honnold offers his two cents on protecting our National Parks for the next 100 years in a recent article published by The Guardian.
“Just over eight years ago, I completed a free solo ascent – unroped – of the one of the most beautiful and challenging climbs in the world: a 350 metre crack called Moonlight Buttress in southwestern Utah’s Zion national park. At the time, Alpinist magazine called it “one of the most impressive free solos ever achieved.”
While I find it hard to articulate exactly why I’m drawn to this type of exposed, unroped climbing, the setting certainly plays a big role. Zion is aptly named: it’s a promised land of striking multicolored sandstone cliffs soaring from a green valley below. Though I’m intensely focused when I climb, the gift of doing it in such breathtaking places is not lost on me.
Unfortunately, Zion and other parks and public lands around the US are at risk from a variety of threats. It’s easy to assume that these lands are protected, but that’s not the case. Especially out west, our shared lands are, as Navajo Nation president Russell Begaye and other tribal leaders recently wrote, “under siege”.
In this centennial year of the National Park Service, let us celebrate the parks and lands that are our birthright to use and enjoy. But let us also commit to protecting these places for the next hundred years and beyond — and recognize that defending these commonly held treasures requires our vigilance and effort.”