As Poe Puts It: Last national park closes, final polar bear dies amidst oil drilling

Matt Poe

Yellowstone National Park, the last remaining national park in the United States, closed just a few weeks ago back in late March 2019. Located primarily in Wyoming, Yellowstone was established in 1872 and was recognized as the first national park in United States history.

But after an almost 150 year run, the park officially closed as President Trump ordered the construction of another major oil pipeline.

Much like the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines before it, the fittingly named Tyrant Pipeline will snake through the middle of Yellowstone and expand to the Rio Grande River just south of the Texan Border. With Yellowstone officially losing its designation as a national park, it serves as the end of the United States national park system.

What was once a breathtaking scope of 58 national parks spanning across the country has now been reduced to pathways for oil pipelines, cheap condominiums, office buildings and poorly constructed golf courses, thanks to executive orders passed by President Trump.

When asked about the death of our national parks, Trump scoffed at the idea that nature and environmentalism are a vital part of our nation and planet’s health, as well as our own.  

“Look, nature is overrated,” Trump said as he threw a stick into a nearby cyclist’s tire spokes. “It’s just one of those, it’s one of those things we don’t need. Who needs clean air when you can have oil?”

I spoke with several families of animals who lived in Yellowstone and the consensus was grim: without the historic national park, animal families have little places to turn for help.

“It’s been tough on all of us,” said George, a gray wolf with a wife and three cubs. “Generations of my family lived here for centuries and now we have to move to somewhere crappy, like Jacksonville.”

George and his family of gray wolves weren’t the only ones affected by Trump’s Tyrant Pipeline and the subsequent closing of Yellowstone. Jason and Claudia, a pair of grizzly bears living near the Mammoth Hot Springs located in the park, had to sell their dream log and relocate to Denver.

“I worked a lot of overtime hours catching salmon and also moonlighted as a waiter at a nearby restaurant to afford that log,” Jason said while holding back tears.

“But after the ninth spill from the Tyrant Pipeline, the salmon became less abundant and our returns on the log diminished severely when we had to sell,” Claudia said while comforting her husband.

The western half of the United States wasn’t the only area of the country feeling pain as a result of Trump’s historic executive order. The last polar bear died this past week in the Arctic Circle after his final television interview aired just several days prior.

“Look, I just can’t take this anymore,” the polar bear known as Greg told CNN’s Anderson Cooper just a short time ago. “I lived a long life, but the thought that my late children will never see a human in a zoo or eat a whale carcass is just tragic,” Greg said as he finished his beer. Local arctic foxes who knew Greg spoke highly of the late polar bear.

“Greg was a good man,” one arctic fox told me as he finished a smoke. “Trump gets what Trump wants, regardless of how it affects the rest of us. In the end, I just wish we had spoken up from the start back in 2017.”

The consensus from most wildlife and many humans I spoke with agreed that we should have stopped this madness when it began in 2017. But that is then and this is now, and if the wildlife are correct (which I sense they are) we may have already reached the point of no return with both this president and the environment.  

Matt Poe is a columnist, contact him at [email protected].