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Tags: national | park | service | economy

Take Dad to a National Park

By    |   Friday, 15 June 2012 11:09 AM EDT

With all of the economic hardship and uncertainty facing Americans, it may not be a bad idea to pack up dad and the entire family to head for one of this country’s crown jewels managed by the National Park Service.

You can escape from reality and rediscover the greatness of our nation in one of 58 pristine national parks. There is one in almost every state of the union.

Lava from the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park meets the Pacific Ocean in this 2004 photo.
(AP Photo)
We can thank President Theodore Roosevelt for the creation of our national park system when in the late 1800s he signed a bill creating Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone was the world’s first national park.

America’s national parks are as diverse as its people. There are parks in the desert like Joshua Tree in California; mountain parks like Shenandoah in Virginia; parks in subtropical waterways like Everglades in Florida; an arctic park in Alaska; a volcano park in Hawaii, and a seashore park in Maine, just to name a few.

Here are some interesting facts regarding our national parks:
  • Land area: 84 million acres
  • Area of oceans, lakes and reservoirs: 4.5 million acres
  • Miles of shoreline: 43,000 miles
  • Historic structures: 27,000
  • Trails: 12,000 miles
  • Natural wonder of the world: Grand Canyon
America’s national parks are also the home and sanctuary for diverse and majestic wildlife.

I was so taken by the greatness of our national park system after a recent visit to Great Falls Park just outside Washington, D.C. that I penned the following poem in honor of our national parks and the wildlife that resides in them.

Our Country’s Pride

Eagles soar in the morning’s dawn;
Bison mow the nation’s lawn.

Whales patrolling our coastlines long;
Bears in the forest with their just born.

Wolves stalk with a full moon cry;
Salmon swim upstream — lay eggs — then die.

Wildlife has always been our country’s pride;
Some endanger . . . Some in stride . . .

Protect them all and honor their life;
America’s majesty is in their sight.

With all the bad news we are bombarded with day in and day out it is refreshing to know that America has the finest local, state, and federal parks in the world.

America has set an example for nations everywhere to preserve, protect and defend their national treasures in land and wildlife.

There is no better way for individuals and families to rediscover America, then to visit a national park. It is a relatively inexpensive trip that also helps local businesses that depend on the seasonal tourist trade to make their living.

Safe travels and happy Father's Day.

Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion. Read more reports from Bradley Blakeman — Click Here Now.

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Friday, 15 June 2012 11:09 AM
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