By Brian Ettling

Recently, John Gottberg Anderson wrote an article for The Bulletin called “National Park lands of the Northwest.” It focused on the amazing Pacific Northwest national parks, such as Mt. Rainer, Olympic, North Cascades, Redwoods and Crater Lake, where you can celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service. As the article noted, 2016 marks the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, established by an act of Congress and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on Aug. 25, 1916.

I currently work as a summer seasonal park ranger at Crater Lake National Park, about a two-hour drive south of Bend. I have worked there for the past 24 years. I write this guest opinion as a private citizen, not as a National Park Service employee.

Crater Lake is truly an American and a global treasure. It is the deepest lake in the United States and one of the purest and cleanest bodies of water in the world.

Unfortunately, as we celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service, I have observed climate change impacting Crater Lake.

Even though Southern Oregon experienced a good snowpack this 2015-16 winter, the average annual snowpack has been diminishing for decades at Crater Lake. The previous winter of 2014-15 saw the lowest snowpack on record. Consequently, the summer of 2015 saw our largest forest fire in our park’s history. National Park Service considers climate change a top threat facing our national parks as we look ahead to protecting them for the next 100 years.

I spend my spare time writing, educating and organizing on the issue of climate change because of what I have seen in our national parks. Over 97 percent of climate scientists, the U.S. Defense Department and the Catholic Church tell us climate change is real and human caused, but we can limit the damage if we act now. We must reduce our carbon emissions quickly from the burning of oil, coal and natural gas and switch to clean energy such as solar, wind, geothermal and energy efficiency.

As a private citizen, the best solution I know to reduce the threat of climate change is for Congress to pass Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s carbon fee and dividend proposal.

CCL’s proposal is to charge a fee for carbon at its source (mine, well or border), and then rebate 100 percent of the revenues monthly to every U.S. household. Two-thirds of the population, especially the poor and middle class, would come out ahead monetarily.

A 2014 study from Regional Economic Models Inc., found our policy would achieve within 20 years a 52 percent reduction in CO2 emissions and add 2.8 million jobs.

Sounds great, you may be thinking, but what are the chances that this dysfunctional and partisan Congress will take bipartisan action to address climate change?

Actually, there is more hope than you might think.

In September 2015, Rep. Chris Gibson, R-New York, introduced House Resolution 424. It states climate change could have a negative impact on our nation and Congress should start working on solutions. This resolution is now co-sponsored by 12 other House Republicans.

In February, the formation happened of the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus, co-chaired by Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo and Florida Democrat Rep. Ted Deutch. This caucus now has 12 total members, six Republicans and six Democrats (and growing!) working on climate change solutions.

For our national parks, we ask Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, to co-sponsor House Resolution 424 and join the House Climate Solutions Caucus. Even more, we ask Rep. Walden to support Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s carbon fee and dividend proposal.

Let’s protect and enjoy our national parks during the 2016 National Park Service centennial!

— Brian Ettling is a seasonal park ranger at Crater Lake. This opinion is his own.