This holiday: pledge allegiance to nature, too

Fireworks.jpg

People gather in a public park to watch the fireworks
Photo credit: 
Walter Como, via Flickr

The Fourth of July holiday signals the beginning of the nation’s most popular outdoor season. Over the long holiday weekend, tens of millions of Americans will visit our public parks, riverfronts, shorelines, and open spaces to celebrate the nation’s birth with a picnic or fireworks. The weekend kicks off high summer, when many of us will spend as much time as we can outside in nature—from a week in a showcase national park to an hour in a playground down the street. It also marks the start of the 29th anniversary of Park and Recreation Month—a nationwide show of park appreciation, sponsored by National Recreation and Parks Association.  

Enjoying a 4th of July picnic
Enjoying a 4th of July picnic
Photo credit: 
Darcy Kiefel

Many Americans think of access to nature as a precious part of our heritage.  Our national parks have been called America’s “best idea,” and we were the first nation to extend legal protection to wilderness. Over our history, uncountable Americans have found recreation, health, adventure, inspiration, peace, and solace in protected natural areas. Access to nature is just as important in our cities and metro areas, where most of us live, which is why organizations like The Trust for Public Land are working put a park, playground, or natural area within a ten-minute walk of every American.

Why do Americans so value nature?  There are probably as many reasons as there are Americans. With the start of summer, The Trust for Public Land is furthering the national movement to promote parks and open space by collecting testimonials for nature from men, women, and children nationwide. And while we’re just getting started, it’s already clear that the love of nature and parks is as American as apple pie—or the Fourth of July. Hundreds of people have taken the time to post a photograph of a favorite outdoor spot on tpl.org/ourland—often including themselves or their children—and to tell us why nature matters to them. Their responses so far have been immensely varied—from “it connects me to my family” or “I like making discoveries” to “nothing beats a sunset at a beach.” To see all these faces and read all these sentiments, it’s clear how deeply we all share the love of nature, parks, and open space.

If you’re looking for another way to show your love for parks this summer, we invite you to create a personalized postcard at tpl.org/ourland and share it with your friends and family. While making and sharing #OurLand postcards is easy and fun, the intent is powerful: to raise awareness of the essential connection between people and nature and to drive a national dialog about the importance of creating city parks and protecting disappearing open space. 

So at your picnic or fireworks on Friday—or wherever you get outdoors this summer—take a photo and share why nature matters to you. Every voice added helps make the case that access to nature, open space, and close-to-home parks should be a permanent promise for all Americans.

Will Rogers is the president and CEO of The Trust for Public Land. This piece also appeared on his column for The Huffington Post

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