The numbers of visitors to our National Parks who are African-American or Latino are far underrepresented relative to their proportion of the U. Membership in environmental advocacy groups such as the Sierra Club (which was founded by Muir) and the Nature Conservancy—which some hope can rescue park lands—is overwhelmingly white and aging.In the case of the Nature Conservancy, the current average age of new members is 62.The pioneering environmentalist John Muir was no great fan of cities.
Millions of visitors also have easy access to diverse communities of plants, birds, mammals, and fish at places like San Bruno Mountain State Park in the midst of the San Francisco Peninsula, and the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy and Coyote Creek Trail that run through the very heart of Silicon Valley in San Jose.
San Bruno Mountain is a refuge for endangered butterflies such as the San Bruno Elfin, Mission Blue, Callippe Silverspot, and Bay Checkerspot, while Chinook salmon migrate up the Guadalupe River and other charismatic species such as the California beaver, wild turkey, and grey fox have been newly sighted roaming San Jose’s riverside parks. In 2013, the Santa Monica National Recreation Area had 633,000 visitors and San Bruno Mountain had just over 55,000.
Take, as an example, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Through a joint partnership of federal, state, and local government and private parties, 450,000 acres have been put aside for conservation and recreational uses.
Williams Anise Swallowtail at Pier 70 feeding on nectar of mallow flower, May 2015 Photo: Lisa Ruth Elliott Red Admiral on Potrero Hill Photo: Margo Bors Mylitta Crescent spot in Glen Canyon.
Photo: Margo Bors needs ID Photo: Chris Carlsson Anise Swallowtail on Twin Peaks, August 2007 Photo: Chris Carlsson As early as the mid-1870s, entomologists and amateur naturalists in San Francisco began to lament the loss of native plant habitat and its effect on butterfly abundance and diversity. This has been done incrementally over a 36-year period and costs are shared between the partners.Thanks to these efforts, mountain lions are again roaming the hills above Hollywood."Glaucopsyche xerces is now extinct," he told a friend. "The locality where it used to be found is converted to building lots, and between German chickens and Irish hogs no insect can exist besides louse and flea" (Pyle 1976). By expanding on Muir’s vision to value and explore the nature that is right here in our cities, we just might be able to build a new constituency and preserve his legacy.In the 21st century the fate of nature in California is more likely to be determined by the young Latina girl who becomes fascinated by a butterfly in a reclaimed brownfield than by John Muir and the distant peaks of Yosemite.A good start, but these are urban areas with a combined total population of more than 20 million people.Clearly more needs to be done to engage people with the natural world they are part of—even in the midst of the city.In 1914, federal debt stood at 4 percent of gross domestic product. The capacity of the federal government to acquire and manage wilderness lands is diminishing and there seems little chance of a reversal.Since 2000, the portion of the federal budget allocated to the National Park Service declined by about 40 percent relative to other programs.