This week I join the National Park Service in celebrating National Park Week. Our national parks preserve the grandeur of the American landscape as well as provide economic benefits to local communities. There are nearly 400 national parks spanning over 84 million acres of land, and I am proud to represent Florida's 23rd Congressional district, home to the Everglades. This annual weeklong celebration consists of various special events and activities including recognizing Earth Day on April 22nd.
On the first Earth day, observed in 1970, 20 million Americans from all across this country came together to bring awareness to global environmental concerns. Those initial efforts galvanized Congress to pass historical new measures such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
Over the past four decades, much has been done on Earth Day to bring greater awareness to conservation efforts as well as demonstrate the role humans can play in preserving our environment. But Earth Day is not a celebration of what has been done, it is a reminder of what still needs to be done to make sure our air, water, soil, and ecosystem receive adequate attention, support, and protection. We must constantly reevaluate our own ecological impact in order to preserve the strength of the environmental legacy that we leave behind.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the last decade has been the warmest on record. These drastic changes can lead to heat waves becoming hotter and more common. In addition, storms will likely become stronger and more frequent, increasing the chances of flooding in coastal communities. Unfortunately, we have already witnessed the devastation these stronger storms can cause.
As Co-Chairman of the Congressional Everglades Caucus, I know firsthand of the importance of our national parks to both local communities and the nation. I encourage all individuals to explore some of the world's finest scenery, historical landmarks, and habitats found within our beautiful and historic parklands.
It is time that we realize that our quality of life is inextricably tied to the well-being of the environment. I have always been an avid supporter of environmental protections and our national parks, having continually posted one of the most pro-environmental voting records in Congress. During National Park Week and in honor of Earth Day, help me in the fight to protect these national treasures and the environment as a whole. We won't get a second chance to save the environment.
During the weeklong National Park Week festivities, visitors across the country can gain entrance to all national parks free of charge.