The 8 Most Endangered National Parks

The U.S. government has failed to protect our national parks in these times of disastrous wildfires, drying rivers, and melting glaciers. The parks also contend with pollution issues, budget shortfalls, a scourge of invasive plant and animal species, and now a global pandemic.

In a controversial move made during the spread of COVID-19, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt waived entrance fees at all national parks, which encouraged visitation in mid-March. By late March—as some park employees tested positive for the virus and rangers could no longer enforce safe social-distancing practices on crowded overlooks and trails—Yosemite, Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, and other parks began closing their gates.

Then on Earth Day (April 22), President Trump announced that the parks would soon reopen. Against the judgment of many park employees and officials from around the country, reopenings began in early May, and now most parks are open.

As the parks reopen, humans will once again lead the invasive-species list. Since 2015, a record 300 million-plus visitors have streamed into the national parks every year, and a surge of visitors is expected this summer. The consensus is that many of America’s “best ideas” are being loved to death, as people swarm into places that have their own compromised immune systems.

Years of underfunding and climate change are increasingly threatening the national park system. From the Everglades in Florida to Glacier in Montana, and the Smokies in TN/NC, here are the ones we stand to lose.

 

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