With nearly 100 years of history, the National Park Service and its wonderful system have attracted a lot of quotable quotes, some inspiring, some concerning. Here is a baker's dozen of statements -- some thought-provoking, others merely interesting -- that have been tied to the system down through the years.
* "It is not possible to provide essential services. Visitor concentration points can't be kept in sanitary condition. Comfort stations can't be kept clean and serviced. Water, sewer, and electrical systems are taxed to the utmost. Protective services to safeguard the public and preseve park values are far short of requirements. Physical facilities are deteriorating or are inadequate to meet public needs. Some of the camps are approaching rural slums." -- National Park Service Director Conrad Wirth, pointing out problems related to inadequate congressional funding, in a Reader's Digest article, 1955.
* "Standing where I am tonight, a radius of four hundred miles includes ... a population amounting to almost one-third of that of the whole country. ... And as this is to be a park to meet the needs of the greatest number who will be attracted, it is not necessary to establish it so far from our Nation's Capitol. Let us establish it here, and let us establish another later, farther down the line." -- Col. H.J. Benchoff in persuading Harlan P. Kelsey, former president of the Appalachian Mountain Club and supporter of a Great Smoky Mountains National Park, to get behind a Shenandoah National Park, 1924
* "We pass with rapid transition from one remarkable vision to another, each unique of its kind and surpassing all others in the known world. The intelligent American will one day point on the map to this remarkable district with the conscious pride that it has not its parallel on the face of the globe." -- Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden, 1872.
* "Perhaps the most serious obstacle impeding the evolution of a land ethic is the fact that our educational and economic system is headed away from, rather than toward, an intense consciousness of land." -- Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 1949
* "A park is an artificial unit, not an independent biological unit with natural boundaries (unless it happens to be an island)." -- George M. Wright et al., 1933
* "If you think that Alaska is a long way to go for a national park, so was Yellowstone in 1872. Now Yellowstone is irreplaceable. So is Alaska and so are its unspoiled wildlands and magnificent wildlife." -- Alaska Coalition brochure, 1977
* "Congress (and the public which elects it) can always be expected to hesitate longer over an appropriation to acquire or protect a national park than over one to build a highway into it. Yet there is nothing which so rapidly turns a wilderness into a reserve and a reserve into a resort." -- Joseph Wood Krutch, 1957
* "Do not let the Service become just another executive government bureau; keep it youthful, vigorous, clean and strong." -- Horace M. Albright, second director of the National Park Service.
* "The influence of (the national parks) is far beyond what is usually esteemed or usually considered. It has a relation to efficiency -- the working efficiency of the people, to their health, and particularly to their patriotism -- which would make the parks worth while, if there were not a cent of revenue in it, and if every visitor to the parks meant that the Government would have to pay a tax of $1 simply to get him there." -- J. Horace McFarland, early proponent of a National Park Service, 1916.
* "It is now recognized that (national) Parks contain more than scenery." -- Harold Bryant, cofounder, Yosemite Free Nature Guide Service, 1929
* "I will err on the side of public use versus preservation." -- Interior Secretary James Watt, 1981
* "The results of this study indicate that no parks of the System are immune to external and internal threats, and that these threats are causing significant and demonstrable damage." State of the Parks Report, 1980
* "Our national parks system is a national museum. Its purpose is to preserve forever ... certain areas of extraordinary scenic magnificence in a condition of primitive nature. Its recreational value is also very great, but recreation is not distinctive of the system. The function which alone distinguishes the national parks ... is the museum function made possibly only by the parks' complete conservation." - Robert Sterling Yard, 1923