Growth Around National Parks Damages Environment

By: Ashley Davidson
By: Ashley Davidson

Vickie Carson says: "Here, around the boundary, we've seen quite a few pieces of property sell."

While officials at Mammoth Cave say they have seen some growth in areas surrounding the park they admit it's no where near the development around other national landmarks. However, even though it may not be much, it still brings growing pains with it.

Carson says: "Yes there is a haze problem within the park, but there's a haze problem all around the park as well."

Park spokesperson Vickie Carson says the haze problem can be attributed to the number of cars and industry surrounding the park. So they are trying to set a good example of what other can do to fight air pollution.

Carson says: "In our vehicles, we have a fleet of about 40 vehicles and they are all ethanol fueled."

Ethanol is made from corn or soy. It can still pollute, but Carson says it's a different kind of pollution and it's better for the park. And while the park depends on visitors to keep it running, those visitors also bring environmental problems. Invasive species invade 2.6 million acres of national parkland and are destroying natural resources.

Carson says: "Just behind me here is something called Japanese grass, or microstigm, and it's a very invasive species. It crowds out native wildflowers and native grasses that are here."

Overall, Carson says Mammoth Cave has a handle on the environmental concerns that come with growth in the surrounding community. And she hopes the efforts they are taking to combat these problems within the park will carry over outside as well.

According to an Associated Press census, last year the air breathed by park visitors exceeded eight-hour safe levels of ozone 150 times in 13 national parks. Air at a third of the parks monitored continues to worsen, even as the government puts in place pollution controls aimed at clearing the air by 2064.

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