Conservation: Beyond Crucial

I define beautiful as something that is essentially perfect, something that can survive, thrive, and continue to live another day. And the one thing that I’ve found on Earth that is beautiful, is Earth itself.

By: Will McKay
September 27, 2016

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When you ask what type of trip people typically want to go on in the US, more often than not you’ll receive the generalized response of “a road trip”. The glorified American road trip. Which is has been a trip that has been associated with American culture since the idea of The American Dream was established.

But what makes up that road trip? The car? The people? The experiences? All of those things matter. However one of the biggest reasons road trips are desired by many is due to the fact that you’ll get to see and experience some beautiful places. And you're able to do that due to conservation.

Within the United States, there are 58 National Parks, 154 National Forests, 20 National Grasslands, and 14 National Seashores and Lake shores. Compared to other nations, that is quite a significant amount.

Estes Park, Colorado

Isn’t that enough? That’s a question I find is frequently asked when I hear discussions of conservation. From the surface it seems as if a bunch of “tree huggers” are just protecting places they consider to be beautiful. But to fully understand why they do the things they do, you first must define the term “beautiful”.

Obviously beautiful can be interpreted in many ways. To some that may mean a spot next to their favorite flowers, a well designed city, or some piece of abstract art that is worth more than your home. To me, however, I define beautiful as something that is essentially perfect, something that can survive, thrive, and continue to live another day. And the one thing that I’ve found on Earth that is beautiful, is Earth itself.

Estes Park, Colorado

We humans have expanded, conquered, and attempted to tame everything in our path. That ranges from resources, animals, and mostly the land. Yet despite this constant conquest to “tame the wild”, we’ve never been satisfied. We haven’t stopped and said “ya know, I think we’ve done enough here, lets just stop”. And there is a reason behind that. As the human population continues to grow, more land is constantly needed for housing and food production. I’m not advocating for the end of the human population, that would simply be absurd and inhuman. I’m simply asking that the little wild land that is left, is to be left how and where it is. Because once it’s gone, we will all feel the effects.

“We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields and obstructing navigation.” - Theodore Roosevelt

Mt. Molden, Norway

I recognize that I’m insignificant in the scheme of things. My life is a fraction of time compared to that of the Earth’s. However, I feel as if, as a human being, I have a duty to protect and care for my home. The same home that all other humans and animals alike call their own. Without the surrounding life that nature provides, humans would simply cease to exist. We walk a delicate line through the world, if a certain species goes extinct, we may soon follow. For example, if the honey bee were to disappear, food production would become an extremely difficult task for us. It would also basically destroy the rest of the food chain that is above it as well.

So I ask that people think a little bit further into the reason for conservation. It’s not simply saving the beautiful places, it's about saving your home.

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.