The Top Park Advocate Stories from 2012
Since the Park Advocate launched last January, we’ve explored more than a hundred topics affecting national parks around the country, from air pollution to Civil War commemorations to hunting, among many other issues. I had the unique privilege of working in some way on all 160 of these stories in 2012. Now that we’ve wrapped up our first calendar year, here are a few of my personal favorites.
My five favorite stories on the Park Advocate
- “The Poacher and the Bootleg Lady.” Theft, moonshine, and love—in a national park? For an exciting real-life plot, it’s hard to beat Michael Jamison’s story about two colorful characters who made their home in Glacier National Park at the turn of the 20th century—and how NPCA recently helped incorporate their ranch into the park.
- “Everybody Needs a Rock, and to Know Where to Find One.” Florida journalist Mark Woods took a year-long sabbatical to explore the state of the national parks leading up to their centennial in 2016. Midway through the year, he suffered the loss of his mother. In this moving guest post, he pays tribute to her and shares a few poignant family memories that affirm their deep connection with nature and each other. (Grab the tissues before you click.)
- “On the Edge: Fracking and the Fate of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.” Fracking was all over the news last year, as people around the country sought more information on this controversial method for extracting oil and gas. What I loved about Ann Mallick’s story is how she makes the environmental threat personal, sharing her memories of a park that is particularly vulnerable to this form of energy development.
- “Commercial Beef Cattle in America’s National Parks: Are You Serious?” I was shocked to learn that more than a dozen national parks permit cattle grazing by private companies, even though it can harm public lands. This well-researched story by Madeleine Starkey and Dr. James D. Nations sheds light on a controversial issue affecting some of our iconic western landscapes.
- “Tule Springs Could Be Our Newest National Monument, Thanks in Part to One Dedicated Volunteer.” Can one person really make a difference? Jill DeStefano has, by spearheading a community effort to preserve Tule Springs, a site rich with prehistoric fossils. Author Lynn Davis shares how Jill never expected to become a local organizer, but rose to the challenge when she realized that world-class artifacts could be lost to commercial development.
My favorite writing assignment of 2012
- “We Can Do It, Too: Rosie’s Remarkable Girls.” Over the last year, I spoke with people around the country doing all kinds of meaningful work, but none of them inspired me quite like Lucien Sonder at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park in California. This little-known park celebrates the women who kept the country afloat during World War II, and brings that spirit of female empowerment into the present day through an innovative summer program for middle school girls that wowed me with its purpose and creativity.
The five most popular stories on Park Advocate
- “The Top Six Ways to Discover New Places in the National Park System.” Brittany Sampson’s helpful post with tips for exploring the park system was far and away our most widely read story of 2012. No wonder: It’s got great ideas anyone can use for planning vacations and exploring new parks.
- “Headed to a Park with Your Camera? Read These Tips!” The title says it all: these creative tips can help make pictures of some of the world’s most photographed places stand out. It was written by Scott Kirkwood, one of NPCA’s best photographers.
- “Remembering the Little-Known Battle at One of the Best-Preserved Civil War Parks.” Jeff Billington won over readers for good reason—he shares a special moment when his family history intersected with Civil War history, in a place many Americans have never heard of—but should.
- “NPCA Celebrates the Preservation of the Hoback Basin.” Sharon Mader’s story on saving 58,000 acres near Grand Teton National Park from oil and gas development inspired many readers to celebrate with us.
- “The Poacher and the Bootleg Lady.” Like I said, this one was hard to top.
Is your favorite on the list? Share your picks below!