June 20, 2012

Take a young person to a park

This past week, NBC News reported on a rather upsetting trend among national parks visitors. It seems that instead of the young backpacker often associated with national parks, the average national park visitor is actually middle-aged.

In Rocky Mountain National Park, for instance, the average age of a visitor is 46. In Yosemite National Park, only 11% of visitors are in their 20s. And in Yellowstone that number is down at 6%. By comparison, a 1996 study conducted in Death Valley National Park revealed that almost a third of visitors were in their 20s.

So why are these statistics such a problem? Well, it could mean less support for national parks in the future. Once older generations of park goers become unable to travel, who's going to visit the parks? How will the parks continue to maintain a steady source of revenue?

Even more worrisome is the fact that if future generations don't appreciate national parks, the parks may lose some of their political protection and government funding. After all, politicians respond to the will of the populace. And if the populace doesn't care about national parks…
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