In today’s current political climate, the midterm elections are as important as ever. And for national park advocates, voting can have an impact on the parks that we all enjoy.
National parks receive millions of visitors each year, requiring funding that can be secured by candidates that support conservation. And it’s not just iconic national parks like Yosemite or Yellowstone that hang in the balance. National memorials, monuments, and historical sites are parks that can be preserved and protected with your vote.
In honor of tomorrow’s Election Day, we’re highlighting 3 national parks that epitomize our democracy and prove that your vote matters.
1. Constitution Gardens Memorial
The Constitution Gardens is a 52-acre park located within the National Mall in Washington D.C. Flanked on either side by the Vietnam War and World War II Memorials, Constitution Gardens is an urban respite, filled with lawns, walking paths, and benches that surround a serene, manmade lake.
Originally established in 1976 to celebrate America’s 200th birthday, the memorial is located on a small island, accessible by a footbridge. Here, visitors can find stones that inscribe the names of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence. In addition to the memorial, the National Park Service hosts an annual naturalization ceremony in the Constitution Gardens, celebrating and welcoming immigrants who have recently become U.S. citizens.
The Constitution Gardens Memorial serves as a reminder of the founders of our country, who drafted the democratic ideals of our nation and believed in our rights as voters. To learn more, visit the Chimani website.
2. Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail
The Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail is an iconic stop in our nation’s voting history. This historic site in Alabama marks the 54-mile walk from Selma to Montgomery, following the steps of civil rights activists who marched to support the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The march, which began in Selma, grew to 25,000 participants and culminated in Montgomery, where marchers congregated to hear Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his “How Long, Not Long” speech. The Voting Rights Act, which outlawed discriminatory voting laws and created equal voting rights for African Americans, was signed five months later by President Lyndon Johnson.
Today, visitors can follow the signs that highlight notable stops in the march and key moments in the civil rights movement, including the Selma Interpretive Center, the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the Alabama State Capitol.
This historic trail is a meaningful reminder of how, not too long ago, voting was a privilege for some and not a right for all. To learn more, visit the Chimani website.
3. Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument
Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, located in the rugged wilderness of Maine’s north woods, is 86,000 square miles of preserved forest, streams, lakes, and mountains. In fact, Mount Katahdin boasts the highest peak in Maine at 5,269 feet and marks the end of the famed Appalachian Trail.
In addition to hiking and camping, this federal parkland offers visitors the chance to cross-country ski, canoe, mountain bike, and hunt within the solitude and beauty of the park. Named a national monument in 2016 by President Barack Obama, this land is now protected from drilling, mining, and logging operations that could destroy its rustic beauty. To learn more, visit the Chimani website.
However, just as a presidential order has the power to create a national monument, it is being used to reduce them as well. National parks may not be protected forever. This means that voting for elected officials who support conservation can be instrumental in preserving public lands for us and for future generations.
From our founding fathers to the civil rights movements, to modern politics—the National Park System is intrinsic to our democracy. Researching and voting for candidates in congressional, state, and local elections make a difference and will allow for your voice to be heard. So be sure you hit those polls tomorrow and GO VOTE!
Jersey Griggs is a travel and outdoor recreation writer for hire. A certified yoga instructor and a lover of all things outdoors, Jersey loves to ski, camp, and hike in national parks near and far from her home base of Portland, Maine. When not writing, she is certainly doing something outside with her husband and dog. To learn more, check out her website or follow her on Twitter.