Ridge Merino on the trail in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
On August 25, 2016, the U.S. National Park Service will celebrate its 100th birthday.
Here at Ridge, we believe everyone should get out and enjoy the outdoors. There are so many amazing parks and miles of wilderness to explore. Now more than ever, people are flocking to nature whether it's to disconnect from technology, push their own personal limits, or just wander a few feet off the main trail to get that perfect waterfall shot.
Whatever the reason, there are many benefits associated with spending time in nature, including improved short-term memory and mental health, better vision and stress relief. Everyone should get out and explore!
But then we hear stories like this one in 2012 where thieves destroyed and stole ancient petroglyphs near Bishop, Ca.; and more recently, news about the publicity stunt by an artist who spray painted a boulder in Joshua Tree; and this lady, who thought it would be a good idea to deface several national parks with her graffiti.
Then there's the uptick in wild animal attacks - provoked by people who don't understand that these animals really do need their space. Even worse are those incidents where animals died because humans tried to "help" them.
For those who are new to this whole outdoor recreation thing, let us enlighten you: nature is a canvas that does not need a human touch. A 1,000-year old tree does not need a catchphrase and that boulder is not a billboard. You'll want to calmly walk away if you see a baby bear because mama is not far behind. Please stop feeding the ducks (or any wild animal for that matter). And of course, there should be no wildlife selfies at any time.
If you’re like us and are interested in a more responsible outdoor experience or are wondering what more can be done to protect and preserve our national treasures, The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is a great resource. With 1.6 billion visits to the outdoors each year, this organization's work has never been more critical. You might also consider volunteering for one of many great environmental non-profit organizations, or get involved in outdoor leadership training opportunities. Finally, whenever possible consider purchasing from companies who value sustainability and pledge to give back to the environment.
Let's all do our part to keep the outdoors awesome for generations to come.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” ― John Muir, Our National Parks
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