Sunday, February 17, 2013

State Parks in Peril

I have written before here about the attractions of America's state parks, wilderness areas where you can enjoy the great outdoors without spending a lot of money. However, I was unpleasantly surprised when I came across an article in a recent edition (Sept.-Oct. 2012) of Budget Travel magazine ( saying that many of these parks are either in decline or actually endangered. One of the featured parks used to be a favourite of mine, Blackwater Falls in West Virginia ( A couple of times when I was living in Washington DC I met my parents there for a weekend, since it was about equidistant from my place and their home in Columbus, OH. It is a beautiful patch of Appalachia, with comfortable cabins that rent for as little as $84 a night and camping spots from $20 a night. However, it and about a dozen other West Virginia state parks may soon be disfigured by drilling and development associated with hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in order to exploit the enormous natural gas deposits of the Marcellus Shale. These parks have mineral rights under them that are owned by private parties.
The Marcellus Shale also extends into Pennsylvania, and the Ohiopyle State Park in southern Pennsylvania, very near Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece in the woods known as Falling Water, is similarly threatened.
Even the iconic Niagara Falls State Park near Buffalo, NY, sight of so many honeymoons in the last century is, according to the magazine story, suffering from severe neglect and looking shabby. The economic crisis that is ravaging local and state government finances is to blame for this, as for so much else.
So if you want to visit a particular state park, the best time would be soon. And if you are really concerned, you can donate to parks in most states. It wouldn't hurt to write to the governor of the state where the park is located, either. If enough people protest, it is possible these important parts of our natural heritage can be saved.


Post a Comment

<< Home