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The creation of national parks in America in the early nineteenth century was the talk of many. George Ketlin appealed to the President with a proposal to "create separate tracts of land not involved in economic activities. He, an American artist and writer who devoted his life to studying Native Indian culture and their tribes, knew what he was talking about. His paintings, portraits, and sketches of Native life scenes left an invaluable mark on nineteenth-century state culture. He published several books on the Indians and their culture, proving and showing the public that they were not savages with primitive mindsets as they were considered at the time. The mineral catlinite, sacred to the Great Plains Indians, was named after him for this. The mineral has been used to make peace pipes for centuries. Ketlin's decision to create state-protected zones was formed into a logical conclusion after observing the white man's abrupt intrusion into the indigenous people's established traditions and detrimental effects on North America's nature. He insisted on creating conditions for protecting the environment and the product by the state of requirements for preserving the natural beauty of the American continent. The realization of this idea came in the seventies of the nineteenth century, thanks to President Lincoln of the United States. Abraham Lincoln, in late 1862, signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which made it possible, after a constitutional amendment, to abolish slavery in the United States. Thanks to him and the U.S. Congress, the first steps were taken to create National Parks.
Today in the United States of America, there are more than three hundred national parks, preserves, wildlife refuges, and natural monuments, fourteen of which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The area devoted to parks occupies almost thirty percent of the U.S. territory, which, by comparison, is more than thirty-four million hectares. This confirms that the country's natural treasures have grown beyond national pride into a global treasures. The annual number of tourists visiting the country's national parks is about three hundred million. To preserve the natural resources in America, a particular supervisory body of the federal government - the U.S. National Park Service, officially employs a staff of twenty thousand people and helps more than three hundred thousand volunteers. The Service is responsible for the management of national parks, provides protection and preservation of natural and historical sites, fauna, and flora, and takes care of the attractiveness of American reserves and conservation of their primordial, untouched natural landscapes. On average, the National Park Service's annual budget exceeds three billion dollars, and maintenance amounts are more than twelve billion. The budget spells out spending for direct activities and special initiatives. In addition, the only independent, nonpartisan membership organization in Washington, D.C., for more than a century, the "National Park Association," dedicated to protecting and preserving parks under the auspices of the National Park Service. Its members opposed mining and dam building in national parks, logging, hunting, and more.
It should be noted that before the creation of the National Park Service, landscape protection was handled by the Ministry of the Interior without a separate manager. In this situation, it was almost impossible to support the parks, both financial contributions and land donations by patrons and individuals, without violating the law. The U.S. Congress, therefore, passed a charter establishing the National Park Foundation, which became the official charitable organization of the National Park Service and its 418 national park sites. The fund's purpose is spelled out very succinctly: "to further the preservation of natural, scenic, historical, scientific, educational, inspirational or recreational resources for future generations of Americans." Its activities focus on collecting private funds related to the work and services the National Park Service provides.
It should be noted that partnerships with companies and organizations are spelled out and well-designed grant programs. And additional donations not earmarked for one of the programs go to fund advertising, outreach, and media outreach. Among the peculiarities, we should note that more than seventeen thousand kilometers of the territory of the National Park are private property.
U.S. national parks are regions with pristine nature, wild unbridled beauty of gushing rivers, high-altitude waterfalls, canyons, untouched by human hand vegetation, trees, shrubs, wonderful world of animals. And ranking the best, you catch yourself thinking, on what principle to do it? Based on attendance, walking distance, the beauty of mountain ranges, or vast plains? According to the official attendance figures for the past few years, the Blue Ridge Parkway, with over fifteen million visitors a year, is, oddly enough, in the first place, connecting the two states of Virginia and North Carolina. It is a seven hundred and fifty kilometers of protected road with beautiful scenery that runs through part of the Appalachian Mountain System. It connected the two states and was laid out in the first half of the last century. Along the way, there are beautiful views, plenty of parking and campgrounds, one hundred and sixty-eight bridges over rivers and canyons, and twenty-six tunnels. The road is unmaintained in the winter, and some sections are closed. What else? In 2015 America, the National Bank produced more than two hundred million twenty-five-cent coins dedicated to the road, depicting the North Carolina state flower and the road going beyond the mountains.
Nearly fifteen million people have visited the Golden Gate National Recreation Area around San Francisco Bay. To call this area a national park as we understand it may be tentative. It included San Mateo, northern Marin County, and some urban areas of San Francisco. Urban monuments, the ocean and gulf coast, and century-old military redoubts are intertwined here. The National Park Service once bought more land from the U.S. Army.
More than ten million visitors a year gather at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, located in the Apache Mountains of eastern Western America. Its territory of more than 2,000 square kilometers is almost equally divided between the two states of Tennessee and Western Carolina. There are two-thousand mountains, nearly the entire area is covered with forest, and the Pennsylvania maple, Carolina hazelnut, tulip tree, Carolina hornbeam, and others all thrive here. Among the more than sixty species of animals, a large herd of wapiti, lynx, squirrel, coyote, chipmunk, and others.
But all this seems like nothing in front of centuries of unspoiled natural scenery and unforgettable beauty of the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Geysers, Arches, Joshua Tree, Olympic, Everglades National Parks, Zion, Monument Valley, and Death Valley Parks, Denali in Alaska, Rocky Mountain, Hot Springs, and many other memorable places. They are not the same and differ only in their inherent characteristics. Nevertheless, some of them want to talk about it in more detail.
Yellowstone. Within the states of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, this national park is ranked number one in beauty and creation. The biosphere reserve, listed by UNESCO, sits at two-thousand feet of elevation on mostly massive rocky plateaus, forcing the respect of all past and present generations. Here is the world's largest geyser called Steamboat Geyser and Old Faithful Geyser, tossing a water fountain 40 meters high. Almost a hundred-meter-long Lower Falls and Yellowstone Lake, located in the center of the "dormant" volcano, will surprise you. And the colored shores of the Great Prismatic Spring, changing their color from orange to green depending on the season. To travel to the main attractions for tourists, specially built a road for a length of over two hundred kilometers, giving the poetic name of the route "Big loop."
The animal world is varied and diverse despite the unrestrained temper of natural anomalies in this rocky and harsh region. Thousands of birds, elk, bison, deer, bears, wolverine, and buffalo. They all coexist peacefully among the hot geysers, constantly bubbling and spewing boiling water, on land that genuinely breathes. The uniqueness of this natural monument is multiplied when you try to understand the age-old attribution of this miracle to the time of its creation. Scientists call it a ten-million-year cycle. One simply cannot comprehend and understand such figures. Spread over nearly five thousand square kilometers in the state of Arizona. In some places, the canyons stretch for hundreds of kilometers with depths up to two thousand meters.
Once inhabited by the Pueblo Indians, there are reservations of the Havasupai and Valapai tribes in the south. A sign on one of the paths reminds all the guests who came on the tour: "The tribes that call the Grand Canyon their home: the Apache, Navajo, Zuni, etc." Well, and tourists to add adrenaline, in addition to steep observation sites, offer a walk over the glass bridge thrown over the kilometer abyss. It must be quite a spectacle. You can view Lake Mead, the largest lake in the state, from Hoover Dam. Or use a helicopter, a small plane, or a hot air balloon for an expensive way to soothe your emotions. There are cheaper ways - rafting on the Colorado River on rubber rafts, horseback riding, or a mule ride. Trains, cars, and bicycles don't count. Scientists have counted ninety species of mammals living in the canyon, many reptiles, several species of amphibians, fish, and over five hundred species of birds.
Many parks help their visitors get up close and personal with nature. For this, there are special tours, excursions, and guide services for the environment, which gives a lot of information to perceive quickly. We recommend
Expand your capabilities using seemingly primitive and familiar binoculars, night vision goggles, and a trivial magnifying glass. Using these things, you will plunge into a completely different world of perception of nature.
It is true that the tips for observing nature, and the wildlife, contain more prefixes "not" than "yes." When not watching birds, do not disturb their habitual rhythm of life and do not disturb their nesting places. Do not loosen the subject of your study to the ground. Don't look for rare plant species to observe, but look closely at what's near you. Do not take, or rather, do not steal, natural formations for souvenirs. Let it be even a tiny pebble. This also applies to plants. Do not leave autographs and petroglyphs on natural shapes and trees.
And most importantly. You will be surprised and led to indescribable delight by the fact that in the National Parks is the best starry sky on the planet. It is not unreasonable to think that the National Park Service makes every effort to minimize light pollution. We're talking about international parks and dark skies reserves. Yes, you're not wrong. The gardens that the International Dark Skies Association has listed for "exceptional or outstanding quality of starry nights and nighttime environments." Utah's Arches National Park, Texas' Big Bend, Florida's Big Cypress, the Buffalo National River in Arkansas, and others. Some participate in astronomy programs where visitors can discover the new clear night sky.
The present century is a complex one. On the one hand, technology is rapidly developing, production is expanding, and agriculture is being modified. On the other hand, humanity does not consider preserving primitive relics for posterity. Territories not reached by industrialization are narrowed up to the impossible, and small and big rivers and lakes are polluted because of violations of production technologies. Habitats of wild animals and birds are destroyed. And many parts of our small planet sluggishly create oases, limiting the destructive activity of man in the name of saving all living things, at least on these territories. What's more accessible, by creating a national park or nature reserve, it is possible to keep the population of flora and fauna as much as possible, save the habitat of animals, to help, in the end, form an ecological culture of these people.
And it is not enough to declare ordinary human principles for functioning in protected areas without being able to use them for some reason. These principles simply do not exist. Of course, with the full connivance and irresponsibility for the preservation of all life today and tomorrow on the part of the State. This responsibility was understood almost a century and a half ago by American President Abraham Lincoln when he opened the way for National Parks. Nor was this new to President Franklin Roosevelt. In the fifties, speaking of the role of national parks, he invariably stressed the importance of these places in shaping the essence of America. And, as we can see, this position has not changed today.
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