Was there a sale of our national parks to Russia and China under Obama’s administration?

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By Kristy Tolley

National Parks and their Importance

National parks are an essential part of the United States’ natural heritage. They are protected areas of land and water that are set aside for the enjoyment and benefit of the public. These parks are home to unique wildlife, plants, and geological formations that are of significant ecological and scientific value. They also provide recreational opportunities that promote physical and mental health and contribute to local economies through tourism.

Political Involvement in National Parks

National parks are not immune to politics. Lawmakers and policymakers play a significant role in shaping park policies, funding, and management. The National Park Service (NPS) is a federal agency responsible for managing national parks, but its decisions are subject to political and budgetary constraints. The NPS works with Congress and the administration to secure funding, implement policies, and address challenges facing national parks.

The Obama Administration’s National Park Policy

The Obama administration made conservation and environmental protection a significant part of its agenda. In 2016, President Obama signed the National Park Service Centennial Act, which provided additional funding to national parks infrastructure and maintenance. The act also established the Every Kid in a Park program, which provides free admission to fourth-grade students and their families to national parks. The Obama administration also worked to expand access to public lands and address the impacts of climate change on national parks.

Accusations of Park Sales to Russia and China

In 2015, several online articles claimed that the Obama administration had sold national parks to Russia and China. The articles alleged that the United States had signed secret agreements with these countries, allowing them to take control of public lands, mineral rights, and other resources. The authors of these articles cited unnamed sources and offered no evidence to support their claims. The articles soon went viral, sparking outrage and conspiracy theories.

Investigating the Allegations

The allegations of national park sales to Russia and China were unfounded and baseless. The Department of the Interior and the National Park Service denied any such agreements existed. Still, the rumors persisted, prompting investigations by Congress and the media. However, no evidence of any secret agreements or park sales was found.

Clarifying the Misconceptions: No Sale of National Parks

National parks are public lands that belong to all Americans. They cannot be sold or transferred to foreign countries or private entities without congressional approval. The United States has strict laws and policies governing the management and protection of national parks. International agreements and partnerships related to national parks are subject to public scrutiny and congressional oversight.

The Role of International Cooperation in National Parks

National parks are not confined by national borders. They are part of a global network of protected areas that share common goals of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Many national parks cooperate with other countries’ parks through international agreements and partnerships. These collaborations promote knowledge sharing, capacity building, and joint conservation efforts.

The Nature of International Park Agreements

International park agreements can take various forms, such as sister park agreements, joint management agreements, and bi-national parks. These agreements require mutual consent and benefit both parties. The United States has more than 30 such agreements with other countries, including Canada, Mexico, and China. These agreements do not involve the sale or transfer of national parks’ ownership or control.

Examples of International Parks Partnerships

The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative is a partnership between the United States and Canada to protect wildlife and habitats in the Rocky Mountains region. The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is a bi-national park that celebrates the friendship and cooperation between the United States and Canada. The Great Wall Conservation and Management Partnership is a joint effort between the United States, China, and other countries to protect the Great Wall of China and its surrounding ecosystems.

The Importance of Transparency in Park Management

Transparency is essential in managing national parks and international park agreements. Public participation, oversight, and accountability ensure that park policies and decisions are made in the public interest. The National Park Service has a comprehensive public engagement and transparency policy that allows the public to participate in decision-making processes, access park information, and provide feedback.

Conclusion: Defending National Parks in the US

National parks are a significant part of the United States’ natural heritage, and they deserve to be protected and preserved for future generations. Political involvement in national parks is inevitable, but it should not compromise the parks’ conservation and public benefit. International cooperation and partnerships can enhance national parks’ conservation and management, but they should be transparent, subject to oversight, and serve the public interest. We must remain vigilant against baseless accusations or attempts to diminish national parks’ value and importance.

References and Further Reading

  • National Park Service, "About Us" https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/index.htm
  • National Park Service, "Public Engagement and Transparency Policy" https://www.nps.gov/policy/policy-manual-8-1.htm
  • National Park Service Centennial Act, https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/47
  • The Guardian, "US National Parks: What Are They, and Why Are They in Trouble?" https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jun/07/national-parks-us-what-are-they-why-in-trouble
  • National Parks Conservation Association, "International Work" https://www.npca.org/resources/3142-international-work
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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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