Reader Participation Day: What If You Could Wave a Magic Wand?

As any wizard will tell you, a wand is an essential tool for channeling magical powers. Alas; the light-up wands that Harry Potter fans buy for about 40 bucks make fine collectibles, but they're duds. Suppose, however, that you were able to get your hands on the real thing. And suppose the user's manual specified that you could use it only once for the express purpose of helping America's national parks. What would you cause to happen for the benefit of the National Park System with that one wave of your magic wand?


Buzby's Genreral Store in Chatsworth, NJ is for sale. It is on the registry of nationally historic places - built in 1865. It lies in the heart of the Pinelands National Reserve. I would buy it and turn it into the first Visitor's Center in the Reserve.

Interesting choice, Lawrence, but wouldn't you want to first make the Pinelands a national park? The 1.16 million-acre Pinelands National Reserve (Pine Barrens) in southern New Jersey is an Affiliated Area, not a National Park System unit.

My first thought is to do something for the rangers. I think "a big pot of money" is a cheat on the magic wand question, so I'm not doubling their salaries, as much as I'd like to.
I think I'll create a National Park Ranger Appreciation Day, a holiday to be celebrated nationwide each year by an appreciative citizenry that uses the occasion to celebrate all the hard work the rangers do. And maybe the doubled salaries will then flow out of that somehow. (Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?)

More national parks in my home state of Oregon: Mt. Hood/Columbia Gorge, Hells Canyon/Wallowa Mtns, Steens Mtn, and Owyhee Canyonlands would all be fine national parks.

I'd support a lot of the proposed projects here in California, like the San Gabriel Mountains National Recreation Area, the Sand to Snow National Park, etc. There's a lot of land left to protect out here, and the pressures are just increasing rapidly.

A broader brush :) but may the wand touch and transform our leaders (inside and out of NPS) AND citizens, rely on true wisdom in their decisions. That should cover it, I believe. Lot at stake.

Restore Hetch Hetchy Valley and get rid of that bathtub ring.

Of course this would be something complex, including magically creating agreements for water rights for the City and County of San Francisco at Lake Don Pedro. But the magic wand would be all powerful, right?

I'd remove the private car from Yosemite Valley and the Cades Cove Loop in the Smokies.

Eliminate the "lock" Xanterra has on the Grand Canyon. Maybe then can there be progress inside the corporation, benefiting everyone.

I like this idea, Owen!

Xanterra did lose out on the Grand Canyon North Rim operations.

That's true, y p w, ar North Rim. They have over $250+ Million in equity in South Rim Facilities that has to be mitigated for the threat of a new concessionaire challenging the status quo. Not apparent that Xanterra could/would transform it's operational model in the Park without direction from above. Of course their degree of ability to profit could be reduced administratively.

I would use it to make sure the parks are open to ALL Americans not just those who want to see wilderness take over everything.

Reintroduction of extirpated species, more designated wilderness, a Maine Woods National Park . . . --and higher ranger salaries.

I agree with the increase of Ranger salaries by tapping the SES pay and benefits which are on par with the Congress benefit package (look what that's got us). The Rangers are the real face of NPS. Let the SES pay homage as something that would help mitigate the character mistakes that have besmirched the image of those that deal one on one with the citizens.

1) Clean up the leadership and management mess; which is the NPS

2) Teach NPS values, mission and service – restart the Ranger Skills training program – if you teach your largest and most visible job series agency values, they will act accordingly and the agency will get back on track

3) Communicate a vision for the parks, the system and the agency – stand up for your values and do not compromise resources for political considerations

4) Market the iconic image of the National Park Ranger like Canada does with the Mounties; making it synonymous with the National Parks, selfless service and honorable stewardship

5) Hire people who demonstrate a resource ethic, who are passionate about the mission of the NPS and possess real outdoor skill – no more ranger posers

6) Commit to and enforce professional uniform standards; implement ranger weight loss / fitness programs – immediately – make those rangers wear their flat hats; correctly

7) Explain to the rangers who they are and what is expected; resolve their confusion regarding resource, protection and interpretation responsibilities – get rid of the ones who do not understand why the NPS ranger is different from a standard emergency service / law enforcement position

8) Remove personal vehicles from Yosemite Valley during the summer months

9) Implement a bold initiative for land acquisition, including new and large wild land parks, round out boundaries and purchase in holding properties

10) Extend the southern Yellowstone boundary to include the entire thoroughfare drainage, remove snowmobiles from its interior and stop killing Bison for non-biological reasons

I agree with the magically restoring Hetch Hetchy comment.
I would also make every American visiting the parks fit enough to hike farther than from the parking lot to the overlook. (On a recent visit to Bryce Canyon, it seemed as though the only people hiking below the rim were Germans and French).

Well if this is an all powerful wand then I would simply wish to restore all natural areas in all parks to their pre-European settlement state. No more invasive species issues and extinct species would be seen again.


There is already a ranger appreciation day. July 31 is the International Ranger Day when people around the world pause to remember those rangers, expecially in Africa, but here in the States as well, who have given their lives in service to the preservation and protection of the world's patrimony and to honor those still working. It's a bigger deal in lots of countries than it is here in the States, but I hope we can change that.


Actually, I'm not sure if there is a correlation between pay and performance particularly at the upper levels. The power and elitism that comes (for many) as such a great temptation to those that aren't grounded enough to recognize when they are running amuck is pretty evident in the IMR's recent past. But then, I guess it IS a cultural change going on that one NPS official inferred to in explaining some of their actions. I think it's going on elsewhere,also.

Make whitewater kayaking legal in all National Parks, mostly Yellowstone NP.

Suddenly make all tourons understand and respect both wildlife viewing regulations and litter laws. The 2 things that drive me the craziest are trash in pristine places and people approaching or feeding wild animals.

I'd love that too!

When the seemingly inevitable draconian cuts to the NPS budget arrive, my magic wand wave would reverse the historic pattern and have them start at the top of the bureaucratic food chain, where the corruption and incompetence are most concentrated. If I got a second wave, I'd move the Park Service out of the Sodom & Gomorrah that is the Interior Department.