Written By Kyle Magin
Something’s missing from Donald Trump’s Wednesday Great Outdoors Month Proclamation.
During Great Outdoors Month, we encourage all Americans to experience the beauty and adventure of our Nation’s lakes, mountains, and forests, and even of their own backyards.
Americans can go fishing in Eleven Mile State Park in Colorado, camp on the bluffs of Perrot State Park in Wisconsin, and bike along the Sable River in Ludington State Park in Michigan.
That sounds pretty good.
But, Mr. President, I, like you, am a maximalist. Where can I find some iconic landscapes and thousands upon thousands of acres to hike through like I’m headed down Mordor way to toss the ring in? I’m talking 18-miles-in-a-day hikes and big-ass granite monoliths…
Whether your great outdoors means a community park, a state reservoir, a national forest, or a backyard campout [sic], we must cherish our outdoor spaces and work to preserve them for generations.
I feel like we’re talking past one another, Mr. President.
I am an outdoor enthusiast. I like getting the fuck away from anyone with a covfefe tweet burning a hole in their iPhone. So, I’ll come out and say it: Did you mention our national parks? The spoke around which the American outdoor economy and imagination turns, from Acadia to Zion?
Seems like an oversight of, well, monumental proportions. Seems like you’d mention the places run by the service that’ll get your quarterly salary.
This omission, frankly, stinks. With your party actively trying to shrink our access to federal public lands like Bears Ears National Monument, it even feels calculated.
Maybe you left it out because your budget threatens multiple national parks in the Great Lakes directly. It’d be embarrassing to tell Americans to have fun at Yellowstone while you order up a review to back your intentions to shut down or shrink every national monument declared since 1996.
The fact is, Mr. President, there wouldn’t be an American Great Outdoors without federally-protected lands.
Nice as our municipal and state parks are, none of them do the heavy lifting in terms of protected acreage, wildlife conservation, carbon processing, and soul-cleansing provided to hundreds of millions of Americans, annually, as the National Parks and Monuments system and the Bureau of Land Management.
Even if most Americans only interact with the outdoors in a city park or state reservoir, they benefit from the air and water cleaned in our National Parks, the biologists and arborists who get their start in Forest Service green, and the gear designers who have pushed technology with Yosemite’s trails, the Everglades’ fish, and Rainier’s cold winds in mind. They’re at the heart of the American outdoor experience, sir.
Kyle Magin is a sports and humanities writer who lives in San Diego.