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These are the 10 most polluted National Parks, from Sequoia to Yosemite, new report details

The National Parks Conservation Association has listed the most polluted U.S. national parks.

Five California National Parks made the top 10 including Sequoia, Yosemite and Joshua Tree, according to the group’s “Polluted Parks” report.

The climate report found that 97% of national parks suffer from significant or unsatisfactory air pollution levels and 98% suffer from haze pollution. Meanwhile, 96% are home to sensitive species and natural habitats that are hurt by ozone pollution and sulfur nitrogen deposition.

“Air pollution and climate change remain some of the most serious threats to the health of our parks today — and the problems they cause include weakening the health of plants and animals, permanently harming ecosystems and negatively affecting visitors’ health and enjoyment,” the report said.

The study offers new data showing modest improvements since the NPCA’s 2019 report.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks top list

The Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks are considered the most polluted with significant concerns regarding visibility, health and nature.

The California joint parks face several climate change threats from wildfires, drought and invasive species. Industrial sources including oil and gas, agricultural operations and vehicles across the Golden State are responsible for the poor visibility and dirty air.

“With stunning mountains, caverns, forests, foothills and 2,000 plus-year-old sequoias towering overhead, the Land of Giants might seem invincible. In truth, these majestic parks, and the plants and wildlife which rely on them, face the unique and devastating consequences from human-caused air pollution and climate change,” the report said.

Near Crescent Meadow on August 4, 2023 in Sequoia National Park.

Near Crescent Meadow on August 4, 2023 in Sequoia National Park.

Top 10 most polluted National Parks

Joshua Tree and the Mojave Desert are also among the the most polluted U.S. National Parks, according to the report. These parks regularly maintain unhealthy air that is harmful for vistors and rangers to breathe.

NPCA listed the following as the top 10 National parks with unhealthy air:

  1. Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks in California

  2. Joshua Tree National Park in California

  3. Mojave National Preserve in California

  4. Yosemite National Park in California

  5. Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico

  6. Death Valley National Park in California

  7. Indiana Dunes National Park

  8. Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas

  9. Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado

  10. White Sands National Park in New Mexico

Worst National Parks for Hazy Skies

The report also listed the National Parks with the most visible pollution or haze. Hazy skies obscure scenic views and landmarks detracting from the experience of visiting a National Park according to NPCA.

“Our sense of awe and wonder when we see vast and impressive landscapes — or even just the hill or skylinenearby — are part of our human experience of understanding our place in the world.

These are the top 10 worst National Parks for Hazy Skies:

  1. Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks in California

  2. Gateway Arch National Park in Missouri

  3. Mammoth Cave in Kentucky

  4. Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico

  5. Indiana Dunes

  6. Hot Springs in Arkansas

  7. Death Valley in California

  8. Channel Islands in California

  9. Dry Tortugas in Florida

  10. Pinnacles in California

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Sequoia, Yosemite among most polluted National Parks: See full list

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