From April 20-28, we celebrate National Parks Week, a time to share our appreciation of the 418 National Parks sites spanning across the U.S. During this week, the National Parks Service will be highlighting the importance of our national parks to our communities and nation and I am glad to take part in their efforts.
Each year, over 300 million Americans and tourists from around the world visit our country’s National Parks. National Parks have a significant impact on our way of life. They are an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and offer some of the most breath-taking views in the world. Additionally, the revenue from visitors provides much-needed economic boosts to rural areas as National Parks generate $18.2 billion in visitor spending nationally every year. Colorado’s National Parks alone contribute to almost $500 million.
Since the establishment of the first National Park, Yellowstone National Park in 1872, our country has prioritized the preservation of important sites and ensured that generations of Americans can continue to enjoy them. National Parks Week is an opportunity to learn about the cultural, historical and scenic value of these parks. As the home to some of the nation’s most prestigious parks, historic sites, trails and recreation areas, Colorado contributes greatly to the story of the National Park System.
During my time in Congress, I have been especially proud to introduce and support various pieces of legislation that protect these National Park sites and other treasured lands. I supported the Natural Resources Management Act, the public lands package that was signed into law last month. The bill permanently reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has allowed sites like the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to preserve visitor access and enhance visitor experience by allowing the National Park Service to expand the South Rim entrance of the park.
This public lands package also included a bill I co-sponsored, the Every Kid Outdoors Act, which provides free admission to fourth-grade students and their families to public lands that typically charge and entrance fee. In Colorado, National Parks are easily accessible for many, but it’s not the same for others as economic barriers can prevent kids from accessing them. It is important to give youth the opportunity to experience National Park sites so that they learn to appreciate public lands and become future stewards. The Every Kid Outdoors Act will create those opportunities young people in Colorado and across the country to enjoy public lands and help to ensure public lands are appreciated down the road.
Education and preservation are two critical ways we can continue protecting National Parks. This week, I encourage everyone to take a break from technology and take a step outside to enjoy the natural wonders right in our backyard. To find a park near you, and for updates on upcoming events, please visit: https://findyourpark.com/