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  April 18, 2015  

Personal/Individual Values and Benefits of State Parks

A. Personal Health and Enrichment
  1. Our culture reflects the elements of a supply and demand society. Items of great value are ordered based upon a measurable monetary worth. In essence, we place a dollar value on virtually everything. Yet, what value do we place upon our health? Certainly we assign dollar costs to medical treatment and health insurance. Good health is widely recognized as a priceless commodity.
  2. Research and common experience supports the notion that certain specific elements are essential to good health. Proper nutrition, sufficient rest and meaningful recreational exercise are commonly understood as the basis of a healthy lifestyle.
    Given that we eat and sleep by physical necessity, recreation remains as the only elective health benefit. Everyone recognizes that to achieve good physical health, we should regularly exercise. We also know that to maintain good mental health we must indulge our craving for leisure activities which satisfy our interests.
  3. Walking has become the most popular form of physical activity in the United States. A walk in the park is one of our finest cultural opportunities, a value that people expect to find available in their community. People who cannot accommodate their recreational urge by walking may bike, boat, camp, ride a horse, play golf, hunt or fish their way to satisfaction. People seek these experiences to relieve tension, to gain fitness and to simply enjoy the scenery.
  4. The value of that scenery to the collective health of any community should not be underestimated. People admire a good view, a marvelous sunset, a glistening lake, a sky full of stars, a flock of birds on the wind and any number of outdoor scenes. A community which includes sufficient open space truly offers a richer environment for any individual person.

B. Inspiration and Self-Realization

  1. The American people have chose their best places for their parks because they have felt themselves to be at their best in them. The ancient phrase 'pursuit of happiness' has always meant a search for a condition more truly human, more largely fulfilled and we have selected as parks, places where we do, indeed, pursue that kind of happiness - no undifferentiated glee, no frolicking foolishness - but happiness." - Roger Kennedy
  2. "Parks are landscapes and shrines in which we feel wonder and reverence, where we invite each other to consider what it is about America in which we take the greatest pride and when we Americans are at our best. Pride in our better selves is a good thing; pride in our better places is good too. When we Americans established parks in the Yellowstone, at the Yosemite and containing the Grand Canyon, we did so out of patriotism, in patriotic 'pride' that we live in a land where such places exist, pride that we were a people capable of reserving such places from exploitation, to be retained as common ground" - Roger Kennedy
  3. "Recreation is not only for the time. Recreation is forever afterward. Each person has his memory chest." - Howard S. Braucher
  4. "IN many religions there is a belief that people who wish to remain spiritually and psychologically health will, from time to time, go forth into a natural place to renew themselves. And then return, full of a renewed consciousness of their concurrent, shared, historic unities among each other, 'and' - because the wilderness was there - renewed in a consciousness of their relationships to all the other species with which it co-inhabits the Earth." - Roger Kennedy
  5. "The tourist experience - just like any other form of recreational experience - can be life-changing in a powerful way. Tourists are in pursuit of life-changing experiences. They are questing for an expansion of perspective. For many, a tourist experience is their chance, a rare one at that, to frame a broader context of life by exploring how other people find meaning or how past cultures have found meaning." - Richard Knopf

C. Recreation Demand

  1. Large tracts of open space which also feature recreational amenities are the realm of state parks. State parks generally offer more land than local parks, but unlike most national parks, are close enough to home for anyone who seeks convenient recreation. While maintaining statewide appeal, state parks can still accommodate the specific demands of a local community.
  2. As a society we often devalue the benefits of recreation. Parkland and recreational facilities are frequently viewed as a cultural byproduct, something that does not necessarily require an assigned dollar value. If park services are reduced, we as a society seem to believe that some other outlet will replace the lost benefits of recreation. Yet, tell hikers they cannot hike, or boaters that they cannot boat, or anglers that they can no longer fish, and the value of lost recreation becomes clear.
  3. In our supply and demand culture, the personal demand for recreation remains high. The recreational supply, specifically in the form of available park facilities, exists under diminishing support. Our culture demand recreation while our society restricts the support mechanism for beneficial elements such as state parks.
  4. People who seek the recreation and scenery of state parks place a high value on these resources. Yet collectively our society is diminishing the financial support for all parks. Park professionals and support groups must actively work to change this pattern.
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