Endangered places

The National Parks Conservation Association today named 10 parks particularly threatened by air pollution, development, insufficient funding and Administration policies.

Parks on this year’s list, in alphabetical order with their biggest threats, are:

  • Big Thicket National Preserve (Texas): Sale of private lands and increased efforts to drill for oil and gas could fragment and destroy wildlife habitat by promoting haphazard development along park borders; dam proposals could alter much of the preserve’s unique wildlife habitat;
  • Biscayne National Park (Florida): Important fish and coral populations are threatened by overfishing, destructive use, and pollution; sensitive coastline slated for wetlands restoration is being developed, impeding the restoration of the fresh water flows necessary to restore the estuary;
  • Everglades National Park (Florida): Failure to emphasize ecological recovery in the restoration plan guidelines, a lack of action to acquire a critical portion of wetland, and insufficient funding threaten this park;
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina/Tennessee): Pollution from coal-fired power plants threatens the health of park visitors, plants, and wildlife and diminishes scenic views; administration rollbacks of clean-air protections compounds threats;
  • Joshua Tree National Park (California): Development along park borders threatens to fragment critical wildlife corridors, degrade already poor air quality, and deplete critical aquifers;
  • Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (Arizona): Insufficient funding leaves the Park Service unable to address extensive damage to the border park’s extraordinary array of Sonoran Desert plants and wildlife;
  • Shenandoah National Park (Virginia): Pollution endangers plants, animals, and scenic vistas; non-native invasive plants and insects damage native vegetation, and insufficient funding undermines the park;
  • Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program (26 states and Washington, D.C.): Without adequate funding, the program is losing the opportunity and ability to create a comprehensive collection of sites, stories, and artifacts, depriving future generations of perhaps the best illustrations of an important aspect of American history;
  • Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve (Alaska): Irresponsible ATV use is scarring the park; a harmful administration policy could allow more than 1,700 miles of proposed roads through the park; and
  • Yellowstone National Park (Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming): Ongoing pressure to continue snowmobile use that Park Service studies have determined threatens the health and enjoyment of visitors and staff, diminishes air quality, and jeopardizes wildlife; inadequate funding for day-to-day needs cripples Park Service capabilities; and the park’s iconic bison are harassed by snowmobiles and killed by Montana officials when the animals wander off parklands in search of food.