I just returned from a local National Park Service Centennial celebration. I volunteer as a habitat steward in my local NPS park site. I also have been able to contribute as a citizen science volunteer for some of the studies being conducted there. I help the NPS geologist when he visits to check on salt marsh elevation. I look up to and greatly admire the seemingly polymath park rangers. Today, it was reported that for every $1 invested in the NPS, $10 is returned via jobs and the local economy. Not bad at all.
Anecdotally, this has been transformative, and having access to the park and all of it’s resources has greatly enhanced my quality of life.
If any federally owned lands are to be returned, they should be returned to the native peoples who tread lightly upon them and whose culture is intertwined throughout them. In the meantime, national parks are truly America’s best idea. May they remain so for generations to come, enjoy, and leave only memories in their wake.