Wick Communications

A day at the national park

In Ideas on May 17, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Do you have a National Park in your area? We do, all of the sudden, and we’re finding a cornucopia of potential stories.

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area – an incredible national treasure that includes Muir Woods, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands – recently acquired 1,300 acres near Half Moon Bay, Calif. The acquisition has caused quite a bit of consternation hereabouts as locals worry about access to open space they have enjoyed for generations and the potential influx of tourists.

Well, on Thursday, we invited three National Park Service officials to our office for an informal, off-the-record, get-to-know-you chat. It was an eye-opening experience and I was left with a bunch of story ideas. For instance:

  • Budget challenges: How do ongoing pressures on the federal budget affect the legacy we will leave our children? How do you put a price on, say, Yosemite National Park?
  • Ranger danger: Did you know that you are more likely to be killed in the line of duty if you are a park ranger than if you are an FBI agent? That probably comes as no surprise to readers in Arizona, where Mexican drug cartels have law enforcement of all stripes on edge. …
  • Educational opportunity: In California, the National Park Service is hosting at least one viewing party for those wanting a glimpse of Sunday’s partial eclipse of the sun. The National Park Service hosts many, many such events all over the country.

In my experience, the National Park Service is both a frustrating bureaucracy and full of really wonderful people who are passionate about their jobs with the service. If the organization can be difficult to work with, the people usually are interesting and willing. If you have come to see these parks as routine and just part of the local furniture, perhaps you should look again. I found some good resources for reporters online, including this “media room” on the National Park Service website.

(For bonus points, do you recognize the above National Park sight?)

Clay

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