Yosemite National Park draws visitors for its natural beauty. Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland for its historical significance. The New Jersey Meadowlands, a 21,000-acre stretch of partially developed, low-lying wetlands in the northern part of the state, has neither of these qualities. But what it does offer is a real-time look at the effects of climate change and rising sea levels on our land. What if the National Parks Service were to recognize it as the first “Climate Change National Park”?
To be clear: As of now, this is not a designation that exists. But what it would denote–according to a new plan that’s as much a piece of political art as it is a policy proposal–is a stretch of land valuable as both an educational site, and as an important part of climate resiliency. The Meadowlands would be a national park “that changes and grows with climate change,” says Rob Freudenberg, the VP for energy and environment at the Regional Plan Association, the New York-area research and planning nonprofit that’s proposing the Climate Change National Park designation. “The park would embrace the fact that water is coming,” he adds,” and show that if we let it in, we can essentially do a service for the region by absorbing some of the sea level rise.”
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