National Park Service. Adapted with permission.
National parks play an important role in preserving our nation's heritage for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of current and future generations. National parks are in the “forever business.” The National Park Service is always looking forward to ensure that what it does is sustainable.
Parks currently are challenged by climate change. For mountainous parks, this could mean loss of remaining glaciers with significant impacts on ecosystems and the downstream waterways. For coastal parks, it could mean increased flooding and loss of beaches and historic buildings. The next generation will face ongoing change in park uses, possibly including a demand for new recreational experiences, adapting to increases in visitation, and adjusting to new technology.
Several parks have adopted sustainable practices to help with today’s challenges and prepare for the future. Parks use sustainable design to cut energy use, save water, and reduce waste. This activity will take you on a scavenger hunt through Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado to discover sustainability strategies used there.
- Scavenger Hunt worksheet (https://go.nps.gov/FlorissantScavengerHunt)
- Computer with internet access
Go to https://bit.ly/SustainabilityFlorissant and explore sustainable features of Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.
Complete the Scavenger Hunt worksheet questions at https://go.nps.gov/FlorissantScavengerHunt.
Next, research the state or national park closest to you. What is its name? How far away is it from where you live? What kinds of geologic and ecological features does it have, such as mountains, rivers, and forests? How do people use this park, such as for hiking, biking, or camping?
Use the sustainability features you observed at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument to start a list of what you would like to see in place at the park near you. Add your own ideas as well.
If possible, visit the park to find out whether you can locate the sustainable features on your list. Or use Google Earth (https://earth.google.com/web/) to explore the park, conduct research about the park, or contact an employee of the park to get this information.
- How many of the sustainability features on your list were actually in place at the park?
- How do each of the features relate to energy? What other sustainability features could be considered that do not relate to energy?
- What sustainability feature would you most like to see installed or implemented at the park? Why?
- What might you do to take action and get more sustainable features installed at this park?
Science and Engineering Practices – Asking Questions and Defining Problems, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
Disciplinary Core Ideas – Natural Resources, Human Impacts on Earth Systems
Crosscutting Concepts – Energy and Matter, Stability and Change
- 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
- 15: Life on Land