The SVGOP joins the nation in celebrating the treasure of our National Parks. These 63 parks offer us the opportunity to connect with wonders of nature as varied as glaciers, caves, reefs, canyons, forests, deserts, rivers, lakes, and so much more. This heritage is managed and protected by the US National Park Service whose thousands of employees deserve to be recognized. Can you imagine going to work as a Grand Canyon park ranger? Some parks are remote making them difficult for residents in Silicon Valley, but go East from Visalia and you can explore 400,000 acres of Sequoia National Park and encounter the largest living creature on Earth: General Sherman.
Another nearby wonder is Yosemite. A million years ago a massive flow of ice covered what is now the Sierras gouged out valleys, sheared mountains, and, after retreating, left us with Yosemite National Park. The memory of entering Yosemite National Park from the Wawona Tunnel and seeing El Capitan and Half Dome vault into the blue of a California sky is still vivid for me. You can see the picture, but being there the vista reaches into your body and gentles you.
On a tour of the of one of our national parks, a ranger shared that upstream releases of water into Colorado River destroyed narrow sand ecosystems along the river’s edge. He went on to say, without irony, that, “We have an erosion problem.” I stifled a laugh looking down at the magnificent work done by erosion over the millions of years it took to create the Grand Canyon. Visit and be humbled. Photographs are no more than suggestive of the beauty of this gorge.
You might pause to consider that many of these great parks were set aside by Republican Presidents like Ulysses Grant, Benjamin Harrison, Teddy Roosevelt, William McKinley, Ronald Reagan, and, yes, Donald Trump. When you hear Republicans slurred saying we “want to pillage the earth” or “don’t care about the environment”; forgive them their ignorance and spleen. We take stewardship of God’s manifold gifts very seriously. So, join in the celebration of our National Parks by booking a campsite and, as John Denver wrote, “Talk to God and listen to the casual reply.”