What comes to mind when you think of America’s national parks? Escape, natural beauty, adventure and freedom are generally what pop up in the brain. The need to connect to Wi-fi or get your Amazon Prime package delivered do not typically fall under the realm of thought when it comes to national parks — nor should it become that way.
According to an article by the LA Times, the Trump administration has been working on proposal to privatize national parks and even commercialize them with WiFi, food trucks and Amazon deliveries. To begin allowing private business such as these into national park campgrounds is absolutely contrary to purpose of their creation. These parks were not created to be income generators for companies or the government. They were not created to become tourist traps or the next Disney World. They were created so that everyone could marvel in the natural beauty of our country as the rare regions to remain untouched.
Yellowstone National Park was made the United States’ and the world’s first national park in 1872. National parks were originally established in order to make sure that America’s natural treasures and beauty were protected and preserved for everyone to enjoy them forever. These parks are some of the few places left in our country where we can go and experience land that is seemingly untouched by man and unaffected by capitalistic society. They are a place where you can escape and connect deeper with the natural world.
According to the Interior Department’s “Made in America” Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee, these changes would make our national parks more attractive to digital age consumers and the younger generation.
It is incredibly insulting to the Gen Z generation, most of whom are currently college-aged. It is preposterous that lawmakers think Gen Zers can’t enjoy the natural beauty of the world unless without Amazon packages sent to the top of a mountain or the ability to binge watch Netflix from a tent.
Additionally, the introduction of Amazon deliveries and more food business present would increase the risk and problem of littering and ruining these habitats. People are already bad about picking up after themselves with the things they bring on their own. These businesses and package deliveries will only increase the waste problem and lead to more cleanup efforts necessary to keep the parks pristine.
Around 318 million people visited national parks in 2018. Although this was down 3.8% from 2016 and 2017, these three years hold the highest annual numbers than ever before. These visitation rates prove that interest in national parks is not decreasing throughout the digital age. If anything, it could be argued that people would prefer going to these serene places to escape the hustle and bustle of the ever-changing and growing digital world.
Introducing privatization, new businesses and WiFi into national parks would take away from their original purpose and would ruin the experience of escaping to these beautiful locations.
If you share the same opinion and are a millennial or member of Generation Z, stand up. Let people know we don’t always need technology at our fingertips to enjoy life and the natural beauty around us. Take time in your daily lives to limit your phone use when you can and make an effort to spend at least part of your day outside connecting with nature. No matter how digitalized our society becomes, nothing should ever replace the therapeutic feeling of being outside on a beautiful day.