It should be no surprise to anyone that my spark of science, a term coined by Nautilus Magazine, came from the great outdoors.
Nautilus was kind enough to accept my submission, wherein I talked about how my love for science, even though I’m not a scientist, came from spending time in wild places with my family.
I always thought my spark of science came from my Earth 100 class at Penn State with Dr. Laura Guertin, a kick-ass marine geologist and professor who introduced me to the connection between educational technology and Earth science. Who better to teach me about our changing planet than an American Geophysical Union blogger (and #SparkofScience blogger)?
But after a bit of introspective thought, I found that Dr. G’s class was just different path on my love for the Earth.
The Grand Canyon is everything I expected it to be — and more. There was snow! I traveled all the way from the snowy East Coast to hang out at the snowy Grand Canyon in January 2016.
We walked around the icy South Rim to take pictures, and then headed down the road to a few overlooks. Unfortunately, due to snow and time constraints, we were only able to walk around for a few hours and not take on many trails. But I still stood on the edge of it.
Think about it: why are there usually more people outside? Because it’s nice out. So why did more people visit Yellowstone (and other parks) this year? Because they were open longer (because it was nice out).
It’s not only that the globe is warming (see: global warming), but that humans are contributing to that warming. Climate Central’s World Weather Attribution program found that greenhouse gas emissions are driving 2015’s record heat.
Also, I’m not here to belittle the National Park Service’s efforts of the #FindYourPark campaign and events leading up to the centennial celebration. The Park Service has been doing an amazing job connecting the parks with the public.
But any way you slice it, it’s getting hot in here, which is great for playing outside. And if you’re hanging out in Glacier National Park in February with a tank top on, keep climate change in the back of your mind.
The report lists the top 10 most visited places in the National Park System, which includes recreation areas and monuments, and the 10 most visited national parks. Golden Gate National Recreation Area clocked in at 15 million visitors in 2014, topping the park system side, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park topped the national parks list with 10 million visitors!
These designations mean the land is protected under the federal government and are public lands for use to use and enjoy, much like the Washington Monument in Washington DC. The Wilderness Society does a great job of explaining what exactly these new monuments have to offer as our newest public lands:
Browns Canyon is a scenic 22,000-acre stretch of public lands along the Arkansas River in Chaffee County, between Buena Vista and Salida, Colorado. These lands are managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. The Wilderness Society has been working to protect the natural values of the Browns Canyon landscape since the early 1970s.
The Honouliuli camp on the island of O’ahu was the last, largest and longest operating internment camp during World War II. By acknowledging past injustices, this site honors the experiences of those interned and allows us to enlighten future generations.
The historic Pullman district in Chicago honors a unique, shared legacy that is integrally connected to the push for fair labor conditions and civil rights. The community represents the first model industrial town in America.
Lastly, the White House announced the Every Kid in a Park Initiative on Thursday, which provides a free pass for 4th graders and their families to all public lands for a year!
Hopefully, this initiative will tie in with the Park Service’s centennial celebration in 2016, as well as help people understand what public lands are. If you need a refresher yourself, check out my blog post about national forests.
The National Park Service had a banner week, and it was all for good. We can send our 4th graders out into our newly designated public lands, or they can choose to enjoy the existing ones. Wherever they (and you!) decide to visit, lets all be sure to get outside!