The other day I wondered aloud about what's going on with our national park system and the debate over how it should be managed. That piece prompted a colleague to point out to me a very thoughtful essay on the parks, one that shares many of my same fears, although a tad more eloquently.
Let me tease you with a bit of it here, and encourage you to follow the link to finish the article. When you do follow the link, be sure to note who wrote the essay, and when, for it indicates just how long these questions have been asked.
Our national parks undoubtedly are the most popular and most loved
tourist destinations in America. That's all to the good. But like any
object of beauty, a park requires protection, with high standards of
care and conservation, to sustain the qualities that make it special.
National parks should never be regarded simply as tourist attractions with dollar signs attached to them. I see public recreation as a large and essential factor in contributing to the quality of American life. It serves the economy as well, but that isn't its primary purpose.
Outdoor recreation spans a variety of interests, tastes and goals. Theme parks, such as Six Flags, Busch Gardens, Opryland and Disneyland, fill particular niches. So do commercial resorts and campgrounds. But public recreation areas are something else again, filling a different niche.
Public parks and forests provide an antidote to urbanized living, a return to pioneer pathways, a chance to exercise the body and mind in harmony with the great outdoors. In such places Americans learn to understand and to respect the natural environment. Historic parks maintain the opportunity for successive generations to learn firsthand about the conditions that shaped our culture. Contacts of this nature instill's the vital sense of being an American.
The national parks assuredly were designed for use by the people, not for an elite aristocracy, nor for scientific study alone. Access to parks is a hallmark of American democracy. But with crowds and jingling cash registers, everything changes.
OK, now take the leap and read the rest of the story.