This article appeared in the April 11, 2022 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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How America’s oldest park plans to secure a future

Matthew Brown/AP/File
Tourists observe wolves from the Junction Butte pack in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Oct. 21, 2020.
Clayton Collins
Director of Editorial Innovation

Pay for a national park pass and you’re doing your bit to preserve a monument to nature. You also get to go in and admire what you’re helping to save. Nice transaction.

What about a $1,500 entry pass that you can’t use for 150 years?

Last week, Yellowstone Forever – the fundraising arm of America’s oldest national park, now marking its 150th anniversary – announced an “inheritance pass.” It will be valid for entry – but not until 2172. It’ll be your descendants’ descendants wheeling the hydrogen RV up to the gate.

A gimmick? Actually, the Chicago ad agency behind the idea frames the pass as an alternative to the kind of laudatory but backward look typical of a major anniversary: a conscious forward focus on securing another 150 years at a time when climate change and heavy, disrespectful visitation (trash, tree-cutting, the pestering of wildlife) are rising threats. 

Yellowstone throws in a current one-year pass too.

“It’s a very novel way of thinking to fund conservation,” says Ivo Mulder, who heads the Climate Finance Unit at the United Nations Environment Program, in an email from Geneva. Mr. Mulder has spoken about the role of national parks in boosting nature’s capacity to heal.

“A myriad of ways are needed, and if this one works for Yellowstone, and perhaps can be used by other [parks], all the better,” he writes. “We need ‘all hands on deck’ in order to turn the tide against the massive destruction of our natural environment as well as the climate crisis.”

This article appeared in the April 11, 2022 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 04/11 edition
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