Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that there is more to life than just work, work, work. In 1890, Yosemite National Park was created. It’s not that a beautiful place did not exist prior to 1890, it did as shown in the 1878 watercolor of the Digger Indians by Constance Frederica Gordon-Cumming en, Indian Life at Mirror Lake. National parks are great stress relievers. No matter what your preference, camping, fishing, hiking, birding, photography and more, you can do any or all of it in the myriad of state and national parks scattered across our country.
Although, we certainly can’t get away from projects no matter where we go. Not only is the designating of a state, local or national park a project, especially for those directly involved in a project like Yosemite, like Galen Clark and John Muir, or the president at the time Benjamin Harrison, but it will create more projects. Fast forward to present day and the jobs initiative. While we have not read all of the text of the proposed jobs initiatives, we haven’t seen anything on improving the infrastructure of our national parks. While it may be that it is buried in there someplace, it probably isn’t. Maybe it is because it only affects a specific, and small, group of people who use the parks. We have a feeling that the number may be larger than we think. According to the latest (2010) figures, more than 281,300,000 people visited our national parks. Just like this website, however, they may not be all “unique” visits. But still, 281+ million people per year is nothing to sneeze at, since the total population of the US in 2009 was approximately 307 million people.
But let’s not lose sight of the real issue here. The question is, if there were infrastructure projects instituted as part of a jobs initiative, what is the economic, social and environmental ripple effects. Just to give one example: how many people would be employed during the infrastructure improvement? If there are improvements, how many additional people would use the facilities? How many people depend on the visitors themselves; e.g. restaurants, camping/rv suppliers and hotels surrounding the parks? What are the effects on the environment? Most importantly to us, these projects will need to be managed. The different projects will lie along the green spectrum, from green by definition to green in general.