Of Parks And Postage (Stamps, That Is...)
Montana loves its Parks—Glacier National Park’s snow capped peaks, Yellowstone National Park’s iconic geysers, Lewis and Clark Caverns’ ancient limestone formations and Makoshika State Park’s badland dinosaur bones. And we want to protect our parks.
But to be successful, we cannot think of a park as "postage stamp." We need to think "beyond the boundaries." Every park is connected to the lands, waters and communities around it regardless of boundaries--state to state, county/city, public/private, national/international.
Parks like Yellowstone and Glacier, provide a remarkable experience inside the borders, but they also bookend the "Crown of the Continent," known to the Blackfeet as the "backbone of the world," stretching from Idaho to Southern Alberta and British Columbia. They are connected to each other in a patchwork of public and private lands through which water flows, wind blows and wildlife roams.
If we want our parks to survive, we need to act “inside” and “beyond” the boundaries. That means all of it--parks, public and private.
And that means investing in the future at the state, local and federal levels.
- Locally, cities and counties, like Gallatin County and Whitefish, have voted for local funding measures to protect important lands for wildlife, water, agriculture, recreation and economic vitality;
- Statewide, two bills that protect parks were signed Governor Bullock's desk. House Bill 695 forever protects critical access to Flathead Lake at Big Arm State Park. Senate Bill 24 bill increased funding for state parks and trails by raising the vehicle registration fee from 6 to 9 dollars. These funds won't complete the millions of dollars of infrastructure needs, but will help fill the gap.
- Nationally, we need to #savelwcf. Congress needs to immediately and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a key source of funding for parks and trails across the country.
The future of these protected places is not a given. It will take action at every level, inside and outside of the boundaries, to ensure that our children, and their children will be able to experience the wonder of parks.
Diane Conradi, attorney and "frontcountry" fanatic, is committed to creating, enhancing, and protecting special places for everyone to experience nature every day.