Will Sending My Elected Officials Postcards from State & National Parks Make a Differnce?

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Postcard of Bears in Yellowstone National Park, 1916

Postcard of Bears in Yellowstone National Park, 1916

Will sending my elected officials postcards from state and national parks from my summer travels make a difference? Here’s my logic…

“Dig your well before you’re thirsty” is the best career advice I’ve ever received. If you’re not familiar with the phrase, it basically means build and nurture your relationships and have a plan for when you need assistance from someone. Don’t wait until you’re in crisis mode to seek someone’s assistance.

Over the weekend I attended a conference where Sean and Brooks Paxton, aka The Shark Brothers, and my friend Lucy Tobias (go sign up for her Saturday Morning Magazine, a monthly e-magazine)  presented and touched on the economics of ecotourism. Lucy took it a step further and encouraged the audience to constantly remind community stakeholders the economic impact this clean, low-impact, imported industry has.

As an example, she shared “birder calling cards” designed by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. It’s a template birders can print out and leave at businesses they visit during their trip, such as gas stations, restaurants and gift shops. It reads,

I’m spending money in your community because I’m here to see your wonderful birds. Keep up the good work conserving your wildlife and wildlands, and I’ll keep coming back!”

Birder Calling Cards Designed by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to Remind Businesses of the Economic Impact of Birding

Birder Calling Cards Designed by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to Remind Businesses of the Economic Impact of Birding

Find it on the Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail website. In my search, I see the Audubon New York has a similar program called Birds Mean Business.

One of the lecture attendees said they tried a similar project when a local preserve was in trouble and he said “it didn’t work.”

This got me thinking. Why didn’t it work? Maybe it was because it was too late. That organization had not dug their well before they needed help.

A Postcard from a Yellowstone National Park Visitor, 1916

A Postcard from a Yellowstone National Park Visitor, 1916

This also got me thinking about the times when funding to the National Park Service has been threatened or cut. Or, how here in Florida the governor contemplated closing a third of the state parks a few years ago.

National parks had an economic impact of $26.75 billion on the nation’s economy from the 282 million who visited the system in 2012. When you look at the return on investment, for every $1 of taxpayer money invested in the national parks, $10 is generated. (Read more about the value of national parks in this post. )

Postcard of Lower Falls in Yellowstone National Park, 1947

Postcard of Lower Falls in Yellowstone National Park, 1947

Is the economic impact of our state and national parks top of mind with our elected officials? What if we reached out to them EVERYDAY, or once a week, or once a month reminding them of the money we’re spending in the parks and surrounding communities?

Like the birder calling cards, what if our elected officials received handwritten postcards reminding them we’re spending our money in the parks and surrounding communities?

Better yet, we also include how much we’re spending on that trip, in addition to sharing how special that particular park is.

Come budget time, would there be any doubt the value of these natural, cultural and heritage treasures?

This 1947 Visitor to Yellowstone National Park Sent a Postcard Home Describing the Park as "Beautiful"

This 1947 Visitor to Yellowstone National Park Sent a Postcard Home Describing the Park as “Beautiful”

And who doesn’t smile when receiving a postcard? I mean, look at these vintage ones from my small postcard collection. I know you’re grinning while looking and reading them!

Find your Senator here.

Find your Representative here.

While you’re out vacationing in the national parks this summer, share your experience in the National Park Foundation’s Summer Scrapbook to help highlight the parks. Plus, you’ll have an opportunity to win trip for four to Yosemite National Park and other great prizes.

So that’s my idea. What do you think, crazy or feasible?

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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