As a child, I was taken to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia on a family camping trip. The impactful experience helped to launch my lifelong love of the natural world as I plied a small camera to …
As a child, I was taken to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia on a family camping trip. The impactful experience helped to launch my lifelong love of the natural world as I plied a small camera to capture the park’s stunning mountain sunsets and sunrises, forests, waterfalls and wildlife. Though I didn’t know it then, this path would lead many years later to the thrilling experience of serving as the park’s first Artist in Residence in 2014 (www.sandylongphotos.com/Galleries/Shenandoah-National-Park).
Over time, I’ve come to understand the importance of preserving the wild places that enhance our well-being and support all life forms that depend upon intact habitats for their survival. America’s national parks are a critical component in meeting this worthy goal and will be celebrated from April 17 through 25 during National Park Week (www.nps.gov/subjects/npscelebrates/national-park-week.htm).
Establishing the national park system was no small feat, as detailed in the compelling documentary, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” (www.pbs.org/kenburns/the-national-parks). Produced by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan, the six-episode series is described as “the story of an idea as uniquely American as the Declaration of Independence and just as radical: that the most special places in the nation should be preserved, not for royalty or the rich, but for everyone.”
The magnanimity of this aspect of America’s natural history continues to grow as my experiences of the restorative power of wilderness—and the seemingly unending threats to its sanctity—sustains my interest, and sense of obligation to the human, plant and animal life that will follow mine.
There is abundant evidence that people will work hard, take risks and commit resources to protect what they love. Refresh your connection to our national parks during National Parks Week. Take a hike along the trails or waterways of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River (www.nps.gov/upde/index.htm) or the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (www.nps.gov/dewa/index.htm). Pack a picnic and pick up trash in the spirit of caretaking our precious parks. Post your pictures on social media to share your experience. Stay connected by following park accounts at @updeNPS and @DelWaterGapNPS on Facebook.
Set a plan to visit other parks within the system. If getting to Yosemite National Park is out of the question right now, take a virtual visit to your favorite park via the National Park Foundation’s website (www.nationalparks.org/connect/parks-at-home). If you have the means to do so, support the foundation’s ongoing work with a donation.