Missing the natural world right under our noses
As usual, the latest edition of NationalParks magazine is chocked full of good, informative stories about the 401 sites in America's national park system.
NationalParks is a publication of the National Parks Conservation Association. Receiving the quarterly magazine in the mail is well worth the association's $20 annual membership fee.
The fall issue's cover story profiles Channel Islands National Park, an archipelago located 11 miles off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif. The remote, sparsely inhabited islands are home to 23 unique animal species and are often called the "American Galapagos."
A shorter piece delves into the threat of climate change to the 80 groves of giant sequoia trees in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains. The article explores whether the ancient trees will adapt to a world of worsening forest fires and drought.
But of greatest interest to me is an eight-page feature on Cuyahoga Valley National Park – Ohio's only full-scale national park. The article explores the 33,000-acre park's bike trails, scenic drives, inns, and popular railway that are frequented by northeast Ohio residents on a regular basis. Cuyahoga Valley "offers a quintessential Midwest experience," the article says.
It made me stop and think.
I've hiked the Channel Islands and walked among the giant sequoias of Yosemite National Park. I've seen the Grand Canyon from both rims and climbed into the cliff ruins of Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. All were unforgettable experiences that I would love to repeat some day.
But I'm ashamed to say that I've never been to Cuyahoga Valley National Park – less than a three-hour drive from my front door.
A quote by one northeast Ohio local made the point. "How many times do most people go to Yosemite? You ask people here how often they visit our park, and they say, 'every day.'"
I've resolved to correct my oversight and put the Cuyahoga Valley on my "to do" list. I want to stay at an area hostel, bike the Towpath Trail, and ride the scenic railway.
I wonder how many Ohioans – like me – miss the unique natural world that is right under our nose?