Find Your Park During National Parks and Recreation Month
There is nothing that quite compares to the beauty of the sunset over the Grand Canyon or the historic wonder of the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park. Since the National Park Service was established in 1916, our National Park System has grown from 35 to 59 federally protected sites, adding up to more than 84 million total acres.
In Colorado, we are fortunate to have several national parks, monuments, and recreation areas in our own back yard. Adventurers can embark on hikes to see the sun rise over Colorado National Monument, sand sled on the Great Sand Dunes, hike down the inner canyon of Black Canyon of the Gunnison, or relax on a boat in the Curecanti National Recreation Area. Colorado, and the 3rd Congressional District especially, never ceases to impress with its natural beauty.
Growing up in western Colorado, National Parks have always been a big part of my life. Some of my most clear memories are of days spent outside exploring Mesa Verde National Park and Canyons of the Ancients, which were both near my house. When my wife, Jean, and I had two daughters, we knew we wanted their childhoods to be full of the same memories.
Throughout my time in Congress, I have worked to protect our country’s pristine open spaces and sites of cultural and historic significance so that future generations of children will be able to have the same experiences we did. With the support of communities in Western Colorado and a bipartisan group of colleagues, I passed a bill designating Chimney Rock as a national monument in the 113th Congress. I was also proud to work with a fellow Coloradan, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, to protect more than 100,000 acres of the Hermosa Creek Watershed, which is an area in the San Juan National Forest.
Spending time outdoors was an important part of many of our childhoods, and it concerns me that too many kids across the country don’t spend enough time outside. Technology has unleashed a world full of amazing opportunities, but no screen can truly show what it’s like to wrap your arms around a Redwood Tree or feel the spray of a waterfall on your face. Too often, kids and youth are choosing screens over nature, and the impacts on their health and well-being are serious.
In 1985, the National Park Service chose the month of July to highlight the positive impact that national parks and monuments have on local communities and the nation as a whole. There is no better time than July to introduce the Every Kid Outdoors Act, a bipartisan bill that will provide our nation’s fourth graders and their families free entrance to all National Parks and federally managed lands and historic sites.
The Every Kid Outdoors Act will leverage private resources to help our schools and communities provide kids with more opportunities to get outside, explore, and learn about our nation’s history in a way that isn’t possible inside of the classroom. We all want a brighter future for our children, and I am proud to join a bipartisan group of Representatives and Senators in introducing this bill.
In honor of National Parks and Recreation Month, I encourage you to visit a national park, monument, or historic site in your area. If you need ideas, check out www.FindYourPark.Gov.