California National Parks Rank as the Most Polluted in America

Five California parks have been named as the most polluted in the country, according to a recent environmental study by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA).

Due to unhealthy levels of haze pollution and frequent threats of droughts and wildfires, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks topped the list, according to the report. The NPCA website described these parks as facing devastating consequences from human-caused air pollution and climate change.

Following closely behind are California’s Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave National Preserve, and Yosemite National Park, all grappling with significant pollution challenges. Death Valley National Park, also in California, ranked sixth on the list.

“It’s not a surprise that air pollution is a problem in California. I think people know this,” Ulla Reeves, interim director for NPCA’s clean air program, told the Los Angeles Times.

“But we see that the sequoias and the Joshua trees and all of these places are really having an outsized experience of air pollution and climate threats.” 

The report highlighted climate change as a major driver of irreparable harm to national parks and proposed policy solutions to address the issue. NPCA advocates for the implementation of strong policies and regulations to reduce air and climate pollution, holding federal agencies, states, and industrial polluters accountable.

NPCA’s findings revealed that 97% of US national parks suffer from significant or unsatisfactory levels of harm from air pollution, with at least 57% facing high-risk climate threats.

Although California cannot directly govern national parks, Rachel Norton, executive director of California State Parks Foundation, emphasized the state’s role in allocating funds to address climate change impacts in parks.

“If [the state] chooses to not invest, and not see these places as essential and critical to the success of our climate goals, then we might fail,” Norton told the LA Times.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California

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