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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New Parks benefit all

The national park system is comprised of well known sites like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. Yet, it also includes lesser known jewels like Point Reyes, Devil's Tower, and Fort Vancouver. All total the park system contains nearly 400 sites, sites that contain and protect some of America's most sacred ideas, hopes, places. The founders of the park system envisioned that as America developed, its history unfolded, and scientific understanding deepened, the park system would expand to capture these new chapters in our ongoing story.

Currently, efforts in Washington State are underway to elevate Mount St. Helens to a national park. Adding the volcano to the park system would bestow added prestige to the volcano, attract new visitors, improve the regional economy, provide more stable funding, improve recreation, and better protect irreplaceable natural and cultural wonders. Recently, 100 economists, including three Nobel laureates signed a letter to President Obama detailing the economic benefits of protected lands such as that in the park system.

Unleashing Colter's Hell, my soon to be released novel, is set in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is the world's first national park. Since that time more than 100 countries have followed America's lead and established approximately 1,000 national parks. Some have called the "national park" America's best idea.

Across the country today, community leaders, business owners, recreation enthusiasts, wildlife lovers, and countless others are re-discovering their nearby national treasures and exploring the benefits of adding their sites to the national park system. Several new park bills have been introduced this congress, many could be pass this Fall.

A park system that continues to evolve and expand, can better tell the American story, better reflect the changing face of America.

What benefits do you see from an expanded park system?

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