Jessica Mondillo’s Blog

National Parks Won’t be Parks Much Longer

24 January 2008 

I have been visiting National Parks since I was about four.  Not the coolest place in the eyes of most teenagers, but to me and, from what I have seen, quite a few other human beings in the world they are enjoyable.

Now you may not know much about National Parks, something I can understand since everyone has their own interests, but there are two main rules that are basically standard between the parks.  1) Don’t destroy things, leave them for others to enjoy as well.  2) Don’t take things out of the park.

For some reason these two very simple rules seem to cause quite a bit of confusion.

AOL News did a piece today on National Parks being robbed of historic artifacts.  This unfortunately was a very true article on a topic that needed attention brought to it a long time ago.  In short, it might be too little, too late.

But it is not only historic artifacts that are being taken.  It is also the plants.  In Sequoia National Park people like to take pine cones and rationalize it as “I am only taking one.”  If everyone who visits the park takes only one Sugar Pine Cone (the most commonly taken pine cone due to their large size), within a month there will be no pine cones meaning the trees cannot reproduce.  The worst part about this is when a low number of the tree reproduce from the seed.  Especially sequoias most of their pine cones never become trees and the only way their seeds are every released is by be heating to extreme temperatures while in a fire.

To make the taking of objects from Sequoia slightly worse is that the entire park is surrounded by a National Forest, and you know when you enter of exit the park.  The rules in the National Forest are quite different.  You are allowed to take the pine cones (in moderation).  Instead of stopping 5-10 minutes from where ever they are (since everyone drives through the National Forest to get to Sequoia), people insist on taking the pine cones from inside the National Park.

I confronted the head of a Boy Scouts troop from Canada (the entire troop was there and doing this) who was carrying a Sugar Pine Cone (they range from roughly 8-20 inches) from one of Sequoia’s walk ways to his car.  I asked him, “That’s a big pine cone.  What type of tree is it from?”  The man told me, “I don’t know.  But is from a very big tree.”  Like many people this man made the assumption that the Sugar Pine Cone came from the sequoias (which actually have a very tiny pine cone).

Another place this is a problem is the Petrified Forest in Arizona.  Outside the park there are quite a few gift shops that sell petrified pieces of wood.  Instead of getting one there people prefer to wait until they are in the park and steal pieces.  They take pieces ranging from pebble size to the size of an apple (and sometimes larger).  With petrified wood, it is non renewable.  No new petrified wood will be popping out of the ground any time soon.

When I was at the Petrified National Park with my parents we actually turned in a French family who was taking pieces of wood out of the park.  We found out later that the family tried to play “I don’t speak English.”  The family was fined and didn’t get to keep their pieces of wood.  The problem is after their trip they were going back to France, so most likely they will never pay that fine.

The worst part about the people who take the natural objects from National Parks is that in a few years many of them will throw away whatever they took because it is going bad or getting damaged.  And if that person doesn’t throw it away, I can almost guarantee that when their child gets it when they die it will be thrown in the trash.

People are ruining the National Parks for money or for temporary pleasure.  The National Parks are understaffed and underfunded (1 ranger for every 56,000 acres).  Without the man power, our National Parks are being destroyed quite rapidly.  If this problem is not ratified you can expect a loss of National Park beauty for the next generation, people my age and younger are getting robber of the natural beauty that the government is trying to preserve for the future.


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