Oklahoma State Parks – I write this post with a heavy heart! As many already have heard, at the time of this post, 16 of Oklahoma’s state parks are in jeopardy of closure, related to a 14% cut in the state’s budget! I want to say a few things
prior to pointing out the very significant reasons I believe closing 16 Oklahoma State Parks will have many negative results!
I do know that sometimes extremely hard decisions have to be made when trying to dig out of debt, and to make ends meet! While I remain excited about America “being great again”, (actually I already think America is great!), I know that things have to actually change for things to…… well, change. Sacrifices have to be made and I do not envy those that have to make these decisions. While the outdoors and wilderness holds my heart and happiness, I know that there are many areas of US; our state and nation, that are in dire need of help. Our public education system is the first to come to mind. For all of my fellow Americans who are facing struggles and cuts also, I say to you, I understand your fear and that you want to stand up for what you believe is important also. This post is not to argue that what I want is more important than what you want. It is meant to be a discussion and disclosure of why I believe closing 16 of Oklahoma State Parks will have many negative effects.
In this broadcast, spokeswoman Leslie Blaire stated, “We’re not DPS, we’re not mental health, we’re not DHS, but we still play an important role in the streets of Oklahoma,”! Hear me when I say, opportunity to recreate in the outdoors plays a HUGE role! And closing Oklahoma State Parks will create significantly more burden on already overwhelmed DPS, DHS, and the mental health “system”, which barely exists in the first place. Let me explain why I believe this.
For sake of time, and to not lose you in a ton of jargon, I will use bullet form to state some health benefits, both mental and physical, believed to be gained by being in places like Oklahoma State Parks.
- Forest Bathing – preventive health care and healing by way simply just being in the forest.
- Eco Therapy – “……. therapy, which is just as effective against depression as traditional psychotherapy or medication.”
- Being in nature can “reboot” your brain and improve concentration.
- Being outdoors builds immunity.
Besides the health benefits:
- “Oklahoma sees about 8 million visitors to all of its parks throughout the year, said Kris Marek, director of state parks.”
- Closing 16 parks are almost half of our Oklahoma State Parks
Here are questions I want to propose we consider.
- How many families will not be able to afford a vacation, if they cannot camp in these parks?
- How many friendships will not be forever forged from people on different ends of the economic spectrums, because they won’t meet in these parks?
- How many grandpa’s won’t be able to teach their grandkids to fish?
- How many kids won’t get to play hide and seek with a flash light?
- How many first kisses will happen on a couch instead of at the point, watching the sunset?
- How will we even see a sunset or sunrise unobstructed from houses or buildings?
- How will the Boy Scouts practice their navigation skills?
- Where will the bachelor, and his friends celebrate his last night of single hood? (Okay. I am a girl. Let me be naive to that answer.)
- Where will a girl adventure with her dog?
While, of course, some of these questions have been asked to pull at your heart strings, and bring to the forefront memories of your own experiences at a park, lake, campground, etc. But in all seriousness, are the very real ramifications of not having a place to disconnect and reconnect …… Are these not very real and valid concerns?
Hopefully this post will be thought provoking, and pull back the tent flaps on real concerns and reasons for NOT closing 16 Oklahoma State Parks!
By the way, if you are not from Oklahoma, and feel this does not pertain to you, keep in mind, if they do it here, which state will be next?! Also, if they do close them, then what? What happens to the parks?