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Reader Participation Day: Should Locals have More Say about a National Park Issue than Others?


When I last visited Yosemite National Park , I was still living in New Jersey. Many Californians in the park said "You're from New Jersey"? "How did you know about Yosemite?"

I was speechless at first but I said "Well, it is a national park." Some of the Californians had to think about that for a bit.

Now that I live close to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I wonder if locals have too much say in park affairs, or whether they should have more of a say? And what is a local visitor, anyway? Some who live in towns bordering the Smokies feel that people living in Asheville and Knoxville are not "local."

When a park invites the public to comment on an issue, they invite all Americans to comment via their website. You can find the issues under the "Park Management" link on a park's webiste. Still, in my experience, most of the input is from the local community. 

Do you think that locals should have any more say in national park affairs than other Americans? Beyond that, have you ever taken part at a public meeting set up by the park or commented via the park website, or have you commented about a park issue for a park not close to you?


 I guess it also depends on the mind-set of the 'locals'--- look at the history of Grand Teton Nat park. If the locals would have had their way  back in the day we would  gas stations and hotels fronting the Teton range. I understand there was significant opposition to adding the land east of the Tetons by local people because of property rights issues.

In Great Smoky Mountains National Park,
local voices are irrelevant. Take the recent backcountry fee
proposal shoved down our throats by Superintendent Dale Ditmanson.
He used large guide services to pump up his plan on the falsehood of
campsite overcrowding. When that fallacy was exposed, he changed the
argument to cite shelter overcrowding. Come to find out, these very
same large guide services needed the shelter space to take their
paying, out of state, Clients. We locals were a scourge that needed
to be eliminated so the cash cows could come South to roost. That's
why we opposed his plan to the tune of 19 to one as measured by the
public comments.

Never mind that GSMNP is unique in that
schoolchildren held bake sales and collected pennies to donate this
land to the federal government. Never mind that the Rockefellers
gave a huge donation. The Smokies took very little US Government
money for it's creation, unlike most other National Parks. Should
that matter? Of course. Does it? No! Corporate interests drive
this park policy.

First of all, I don't feel locals have more say so in our National Parks. However, I hope the locals take iniative to keep their parks free and protected. Local people have more of a vested account when they use their National parks. Therefore, I believe when rules are made to keep or hinder the local people from enjoying their parks. It becomes a personal issue. Let us say if someone comes into your back yard and starts making demands of how you use becomes an issue.

I hope people will stay interested in our National Parks to keep them open and Free to all People.

Should locals have more say about what happens inside the park - absolutely not, that is the part that belong to all Americans.  Should they have more say on matters that effect their local community?  The fact that anyone would ask the questions shows the sorry state of property rights in our country today.

As a local who lives in a town that boarders the GSMNP, I feel like it is in the park's best intrest for the locals to have a say in park affairs. No one loves these mountains and the park as much as the people who live their life here everyday. I feel "vested" in this park because it is my home. Does that give me anymore "right" to the park? Absolutely, not, but it does give me more of an incintive to be involved in the welfare of the park. Aferall, it is the first thing I see when I wake up every morning. I also know that without the massive amount of local volunteers many of the GSMNP trails and such would be over grown and unpassable becasue the park service just can't keep up with the maintienece. We should appreciate the locals who live near all of our national parks. Their love for their parks helps all of us! With that being said... the GSMNP and the locals have a shaky history... We all know that many people living around the GSMNP are part of the living history of the park. Their famililes were forced out of their homes by the park service. I think because some of these families owned much of the land that is now the GSMNP they have even more of a need to be heard in park affairs. This does still to this day remain a "sore" spot for many people in this area. 

LOL! I know about Yosemite (and have visited there) and I live in Australia! I think Americans do a very good job looking after their National Parks. It is the responsibility of all Americans, just like our parks belong to all Australians. 

Who is "local" always seems to be another wrinkle in this issue.

"Outsized influence" describing locals doesn't properly describe the people that have the most invested in their community, I believe.  Many cases would lead me to believe that the opposite be true considering the national/international political pseudo (and some real) environmental players that attempt to rally the masses to subvert local and individual interests.  

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