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Identity crisis: Climate destroying wonders that gave US parks their names

UNITED STATES — Glacier National Park's ice fortress is crumbling. The giant trees of Sequoia National Park are ablaze. And even the tenacious cacti of Saguaro National Park are struggling to endure a decades-long drought.

Since their creation, national parks have embodied the pioneering spirit of America in their vast expanses and breathtaking landscapes.

But today, the climate crisis imperils the very symbols of many parks, leaving them facing a future where their names could be cruel ironies.

Deep within Montana's Glacier National Park, the once majestic Grinnell Glacier is now greatly diminished.

After a grueling trek, visitors are met with a stunning sight: a serene lake of pale blue water, nestled among towering peaks.

But as beautiful as it is, the very presence of this lake is testament to the ravages of a fast-warming planet.

Just a few decades ago, this landscape was entirely frozen.

Now the glacier itself is relegated to a small hollow, sheltered from the Sun, at the edge of the lake created through its own melting.

As he straps on his crampons, student Ryan Bergman marvels at what still remains of the ice body.

"I want to know that this stuff is here for years to come," says the 22-year-old, who has embarked on a two-month journey to explore a dozen parks.

He dreams of one day returning with his own children to see the same sights.

But time is running out.

The park has already lost 60 percent of its namesake glaciers since the 1850s, and scientists predict their complete disappearance by the century's end.

Families from all over America and abroad flock to these natural wonders to create memories that will last.

Conserving the nation's 63 national parks is a rare point of political convergence in a sharply divided country. With tens of millions of visitors to these sites every year, it is also an economic imperative.

President Joe Biden's government recently announced nearly $200 million to help them adapt -- funding made available through his signature climate law.

Despite these efforts, the reality is that not everything can be saved.

This sobering truth has sparked an identity crisis for the federal agency charged with their protection, the