I worry about the health of our people, our natural resources and our government institutions. Investing in nature would put us on a stronger path.

Earlier this month, my wife Tracy and I explored on horseback for three days the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area — a gem of the national park system in east Tennessee. As we rode the trails, experiencing the gently flowing creeks, the quiet wooded paths, the inspiring sounds of birds and kids playing along the way, we delightfully soaked up the present, reflected fondly on the past and what it took to make our experience possible, but also worried about the future.

The Big South Fork was established in 1974 by a U.S. Senate majority leader before me, my mentor, Republican Howard Baker of Tennessee, through bipartisan, broadly supported congressional legislation. I remember him telling me years later that of all the contributions he made to the country, this act would be the most remembered because of the broad impact it would have on the well-being of millions of people for generations to come. I think he’s right.

As a doctor and scientist, I speak and write often on the well-established connection between the physical, mental and emotional health of people and their natural environment. As a former congressional legislator, I witnessed the synergistic connection between responsible, smart government and cooperative, forward-leaning partnerships that help people from all walks of life thrive and live happier and more fulfilling lives.

But right now, I worry about the health of our people, our natural resources and our government institutions. Getting back to basics for things we all need — healthy land, clean air and water — would be a good start to putting us and…