Traveler's Five Picks For New National Parks

Pretty enough to be within a national park. Green River Lakes, Wind River Range. Photo by G. Thomas via Wikipedia.

Creating national parks doesn't happen every day. Lately, it seems the quickest way to create one is to legislatively redesignate a national monument as a national park (See Pinnacles National Park). But it doesn't hurt to dream, does it?

Here are five picks from the Traveler for new national parks. We offer up these nominees without consideration to fiscal impact because once you start to consider the costs -- mainly economic costs, but also political -- the possible can become impossible. With that understood, we view the following locations as truly spectacular places that should be preserved for future generations.

* Wind River Range, Wyoming

The Wind River Range in west-central Wyoming visibly defines spectacular. With 40 peaks that soar above 13,000 feet, including the state's highest point at 13,809 feet, glaciers, grizzlies, elk, bighorn sheep, lakes and trout streams, this craggy range runs roughly 100 miles north to south and 30 miles east to west.

Currently managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the range contains officially designated wilderness and is one of the country's premier hiking and backpacking areas. The range also harbors the headwaters of the Green River.

You can lose yourself in the Winds for days on end, spot North America's largest herd of bighorn sheep, find challenging climbing routes, or fancy yourself as a latter-day mountain man.

* Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho

This 756,000-acre NRA long has been considered for inclusion in the National Park System. Indeed, back in 1911 a group of women in Idaho called for such a move, according to a history of the NRA's creation.

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Stanley Lake in the Sawtooth NRA. Photo by Fredlyfish4 via Wikipedia.

In 1960, then-U.S. Sen. Frank Church introduced legislation to have the area considered for park status, and six years later even introduced a bill calling for Sawtooth National Park, but local opposition derailed it.

This wide expanse of wild lures river runners, climbers, backcountry skiers, anglers, backpackers and more. Cyclists challenge themselves on attacking the highway over Galena Summit, while families carry on long traditions of camping at Redfish Lake.

* Maine North Woods, Maine

New England needs another national park, and the one proposed for the North Woods would not just be gorgeous, but would benefit wildlife species such as Canada lynx, Atlantic salmon and the eastern timber wolf threatened with extinction for lack of habitat and protect the "wild forests of New England."

The hardwood forests, lakes, and rivers would help build a strong recreation sector that would pump money into the surrounding towns. The streams and lakes here long have been plied by canoeists.

Talk of creating such a national park extends back over two decades. Proponents, along with pointing to the natural resources that could be protected, believe the cachet of a "Maine North Woods National Park" would bolster the region's economy through businesses that cater to park visitors.

* Ancient Forest National Park, California and Oregon

With climate change under way, protecting migrational routes, and providing migrational routes, for wildlife and even plants is vital to help ensure their survival.

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The boundaries of the proposed Ancient Forest National Park run from Oregon south into California.

Park Service Director Jon Jarvis back in August of 2011 called for establishing "a national system of parks and protected sites (rivers, heritage areas, trails, and landmarks) that fully represents our natural resources and the nation's cultural experience." He also cited the need for creation of "continuous corridors" to support ecosystems.

The proposed 3.8-million-acre Ancient Forest National Park spanning parts of southern Oregon and northern California would meet those goals.

Within its proposed borders there already exist officially designated wilderness and roadless areas, places perfect for both recreation and wildlife.

The proposal is to set aside a solid block of land 3.8 million acres from the Rogue River in Oregon to the Eel River in California. It will forever allow the free migration of species from the coast and Redwood National Park to semi arid inland canyons. The park would include already established wilderness areas and already designated critical wildlife areas along with about 1 million acres of unprotected inventoried roadless areas.

* San Rafael Swell, Utah

Talk of turning the Swell into a national park has simmered for decades, going back to the 1930s when local officials proposed a "Wayne Wonderland National Monument." The proposal went nowhere, for the Swell, but is pointed to as an impetus for Capitol Reef National Park.

Nevertheless, the wondrous landscape of colorful reefs of rock, deep canyons, and sandstone walls bearing ancient pictographs remain. So, too, do the tales of outlaws such as Butch and Sundance losing possees by galloping into the maze of canyons. Within the Swell you can find ancient granaries, stone arches, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, feral horses and mules, homesteader cabins, and old mining operations. There are opportunities for canyoneering, river running, backpacking and day hiking and more.

Today there are fewer and fewer pristine and preserved areas left in the country, a fact that has the clock ticking on the few remaining places that deserve national park status. While much opposition no doubt exists to each of the above proposals, they could be crafted in such a way to mollify many of the critics.

By creating a "national park and preserve," the enacting legislation could be written in a way to allow some traditional ways of life, whether they involve grazing livestock, hunting, or logging in a sustainable fashion. Communities could remain in place, with the "park-and-preserve" boundaries excluding them.

What other places do you think should be added to the park system?

Comments

I'm almost done writing a book on this topic actually, which features 70 locations for proposed National Parks. Each of the ones you listed are in it, but without giving them all away I would say that the other best candidates are:

Colorado National Monument (and surrounding BLM lands)

Big South Fork

Hells Canyon

Mount St. Helens

Owyhee Canyonlands

The Scablands

As I mentioned, there are nearly 60 other sites that are also worthy, especially when you take the Canadian or UK models of creating parks for every ecoregion/different landscape. Even with the places you suggest, there are tremendous complications. Maine polititians are mostly against the North Woods, Utah hates the idea of creating a new National Park because of their distrust of federal lands and the Wind River Range is in Wyoming which has laws limiting the Antiquities Act and Wyoming (not to mention wilderness lovers) would be staunchly against the establishment of a new National Park.

I love that you've finally broached this topic and would love to see more editorial thoughts in the future.

These areas are beautiful and worth preserving, but don't forget about the east too. My mom runs a non-profit in northern Florida (Florida's Eden) and just for the reason of preserving alone...all the freshwater springs in North Florida are in danger. The hold something like Lake Superior worth of water, but because you don't see the water, it isn't as sexy, almost all of the counties are below the poverty level, and they are being rigorously exploited by bottle water companies. Some of them are State Parks, some of them are commercially owned, but all of them are connected much the way that your vascular system is connected. They are beautiful, a wildlife haven, and the lifeblood of Florida.

http://www.floridasprings.org/visit/map/

Thanks

I have to mention Custer State Park in South Dakota. I am sure that state is not ready to make it a N.P. but the scenery, history, and the wildlife make this well cared for park a gem. It is on the northern edge of Wind Cave N.P.

Don't forget the proposed High Allegheny NP in northern West Virginia! Awesome place in my home state. Unfortunately, the state govt's obsession with gas fracking will prevent this.

Wind River Range, Owyhee Canyonlands, and Maine North Woods would be awesome additions.

The San Gabriel Mountains deserve to be a new National Park. The NPS proposed a piddling National Recreation Area that falls way short of the needs or merits of this area.

It makes me sick to always read how (new) parks

- would pump money into the surrounding towns

- would bolster the region's economy

etc.

As if this would be the purpose of National Parks.

Back on topic: how about a Big Sur NP?

Here are a few quick additions.

* Giant Sequoia — California
* Golden Gate (expansion) — California
* Santa Ana Mountains — California
* Virginia Key — Florida
* Ocmulgee (expansion) — Georgia
* Tule Springs — Nevada
* Maha'ulepu — Hawaii
* Ka’u Coast — Hawaii
* Valles Caldera — New Mexico
* Cape Fear — North Carolina
* Mount Hood — Oregon
* Oregon Caves — Oregon
* Great Trinity Forest — Texas
* Lone Star — Texas
* Canyonlands (expansion) — Utah
* Glen Canyon (expansion) — Utah
* North Cascades (expansion) — Washington

I would mention Dolly Sods but that would just encourage more people to go there which would ruin the entire place. National Parks are amazing places but they attract entirely too many people, which means they attract more roads, easy to walk trails, and concessions. I much prefer keeping some places wilderness. Imagine Vermillion Cliffs and The Wave - hot, over crowded, the beauty completely overwhelmed by porta-potties and icecream stands. I guess I am in the Edward Abbey camp... National Park designation is nice but there are too many drawbacks that come with it.

Guess it's a matter of perspective on a place like Dolly Sods. Yes, it would attract more people (though it is already a Wilderness area and plenty rugged, which would deter the ice-cream-cone-and-grandma crowd), but in WV, our lands are very prone to natural resource extraction (our politicians and state DEP are the slaves of Big Coal), and it would be awesome to finally get the full protection of the NPS. It's worth the trade off to me. I speak as someone whose family has been going to Dolly Sods for over a hundred years, and have seen so much of the state reduced to wreckage. The Sods have always been well used (not just by hikers, but by berry pickers and bear hunters) and one of the most heavily used parts of the Mon. Over Father's Day weekend I probably saw 70 cars at the various trailheads, and 95% were out of state tags. So the secret's long been out of the bag. I mean, I saw Delaware and Georgia tags. That's a pretty good haul.

Now if you want real solitude , there are some very lightly used spots in that region...

Gila Monster, spot on. There are those who think the only things worthwhile with a NP is that it is a way to spur the local economy.

I'll be deeply interested in your book when it's done. I am very sure there has never been a serious attmpt to identify all serious candidates for new parks- yet this should have been done long ago

afterthought I forgot to mention my example of an obvious candidate: the Cascades west of

bend, Oregon. I challenge anyone to explain to me after seeing Mckenzie Pass and surroundings why this should not be a park (actually the Bend area more generally has a great or greater a variety of recent volcanic features in the country; it's just that to the west these come with a scenic grandeur that also may be equalled but is not surpassed).

I don't know why Oregon is relatively under-represented in the NPS. Quite a few areas -- Mt Hood/Columbia Gorge, Three Sisters and/or Newberry Caldera, Steens Mountain, Wallowa Mtns/Hells Canyon, Owyhee Canyonlands, Siskiyous/Rogue River Canyons -- would be outstanding parks. And Oregon Dunes should be a National Seashore, as was once proposed.

I have to agree with dahkota and Gila on their input let's see how many Natl Parks we can have.

Many of these lands I have visited and have agreed this should be a Natl Park. Then I think what would happen if these beautiful natural wonders would be turned into Natl Parks.

Vermillion Cliffs comes to mind because of it's shear natural beauty and it's quiet.Would that change if it were a Natl Park? You bet in a heart beat.

Just last fall I spent a few days at Custer State Park,those people do just fine with the way it is now. If these land are being cared for properly their is no need to get the Gov't involved. After many travels across this great land of ours and the disagreements that come up all to often involving the Natl Parks I say let's just enjoy them as they are.

While on lists Colorado National Monument comes to mind. It's an awesome place that most people just fly by on the interstate because it's not a Natl Park.Why would you want turn that into another Zion Park with shuttle buses.

Not everything has to be called a Natl Park to love and enjoy.I didn't always think that way but my travels took me to the over crowded and over priced Natl Parks I discovered the less crowed and less traveled wasn't bad either. Be careful what you wish for .Remember you play by an entire different set of rules under the Natl Parks system.

I understand that this was a topic on wish lists but I think it's important to point out the pitfalls as well.


Not everything has to be called a Natl Park to love and enjoy.


Bingo! In fact - it may be more enjoyable if it isn't a National Park.

Hi Quiet please,

I totally share your wish to keep wild and quiet areas that way. And I appreciate that you are a national park supporter. However, I have to disagree with a number of your statements.

There is a common misconception that national parks all have major tourism development and significant crowds. That is not the case. More than 99 percent of National Park System lands are roadless wildlands. In fact, over 52 percent of parklands are designated wilderness.

In contrast, less than 19 percent of National Forests, 14 percent of National Wildlife Refuges, and 8 percent of BLM lands are designated wilderness. The National Park System is by far the most unspoiled and natural of all the land agencies. I have been to numerous National Park System units across the country, as well as countless lands of other federal agencies, and I have seen on the ground that this is true.

Zion Canyon, Yosemite Valley, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and Old Faithful are anomalies in the National Park System. Most of those facilities were built before the National Park Service was created in 1916. National parks created since the 1960s, such as Great Basin, North Cascades, Guadalupe Mountains, Redwood, Voyageurs, Congaree, and the new Alaska parks, do not have any significant new facilities. These new areas have reduced existing road systems and healed the damage caused by previous land management.

As for Custer State Park, I would disagree that it is being cared for properly. The park has an active commercial logging program, which would never be allowed in any national park unit. They also allow "trophy buffalo hunts" as well as hunting of mountain lions, an important predator that is under siege across the country. No national park would this kind of destructive practice.

So creating national parks does not mean a loss of wildness and solitude. It is just the opposite. The "rules and regulations" you mention help to keep it that way. The "pitfalls" you cite are very rare. The vast majority of national parks protect the values that you are advocating better than any other land mangement agency.

Best,

Michael

Fun article and comments to read and dream about. It's interesting to note how nearly all the proposals are for places in the west or east. It's almost as though the two primary factors in choosing national parks is (1) closeness to an ocean and (2) amount of elevation. Wouldn't we conservationists want the high level of protection afforded by national parks to protect a variety of landscape and bioregion types and be close at hand to people throughout our Nation?

Thousands of people in the northcentral part of the U.S. continue working year after year on a national park proposal from 1958. Each year for the past decade, volunteer hours surpass those at nearly every unit of the National Park System. Read a little about the history at http://pedestrianview.blogspot.com/2011/03/protecting-route-and-resources-of-ice.html

Mike,I guess what your saying then is to turn these lands into Natl Parks so that people don't use them. It appears that you have insider information that I don't understand and frankly don't want to understand.

That's another reason not to put them into the hands of the bureaucracy of the Natl Park Service so that they can say who uses them and who doen't.

Is that the reason that the big parks you mentioned are over used and in my opinion missmanaged.If 99% of the Natl Parks are not being used by the tax payers of this country that's a crime in itself.

You have just anwsered a question that I have thought for a long time as I have visited Natl Parks large and small as well as in Alaska that they are not their for our use but for a few rich people that can afford the peace and quiet and throw a bone to the rest of us.

As a visitor to Custer Park I enjoyed the fredom to move around,maybe tha't why it didn't give me that Natl Park feel.They are simply controlling how many bison are in the park.

The word Natl Park doesn't give me the warm and fuzzy feeling as they did when I first started going to them.I thank you for your honesty on why we should be careful not to rush naming more Natl Parks.

This land is our land

Lance Martin: I agree with you about the Oregon Cascade Range being of national park quality. I was very impressed by the Three Sisters and Mount Jefferson areas. Oregon now only has one national park.

Quiet Please: There are only 59 national parks, so your comment that "If 99% of the national parks aren't being used by the taxpayers..." is pretty silly. I have visited many national parks and found them to be quite easily accessible and well used. Even Channel Islands National Park is accessible by commercial boat service out of Ventura.

Michael Kellett, I see your idea of cared went farther than mine. I was speaking of the roads, Facilities, and campgrounds. As for park management, it would definately be different under NPS for wildlife management. And I agree with your assessment. But the lakes, landscape and history would be great as a national park and the wildlife management would be enhanced as you stated. My point was the State would probably never relinguish their park and it is why I would put it on my wish list.

Hikertom you didn't understand my point I was trying to make in reply to the first person that replyed to my post. That gentleman implyed that if the Natl Park system takes over these area's they would become more restricted to the public in many ways. Less roads and access to area's that we as taxpayer have a right to as long as we don't abuse these lands. Your point of well used is an understatment for the large popular parks. It sad how the Natl Parks system stuff us into small area's and say stay away from that wilderness we don't want you using that.

The Natl Park system was set up to preserve these lands from development and perserve them for our use and enjoyment. Do we need more Natl Parks for the sake of being called a Natl Park. Not if it simply means more rules, restrictions, and money in somebodys pocket. The Channel Islands are one of the less used parks and a joy to visit. If you live nearby you are blessed. Peace!

Quiet please, where exactly does the NPS tell visitors to stay away from?

Kurt,

re "stay away". Try when you have a dog. Love Yellowstone but this years Montana road trip with the wife and dogs will keep us away from Yellowstone. Similar restrictions repel bikers or RVers or boaters. Maybe in some cases those restrictions are warranted but you can't deny they exist.

EC, I'd disagree. National parks aren't like all other public lands...if they were, they wouldn't be the special places they are.

Can you imagine going to Yellowstone or Yosemite or Glacier or Shenandoah and having everyone's dogs running around? Or mountain bikers cruising all the hiking trails? Or boaters on all the lakes and streams? The "restrictions" as you call them, are only restrictions if you insist on bringing your favorite form of whatever into a park where it's not permitted.

Many churches don't allow dogs or bikes inside, yet they don't seem to be lacking for congregants.

Quiet Please: I hike and backpack in the wilderness areas of many of our national parks and national forests in California and Oregon and I have never heard anyone tell me: "...stay away from that wilderness we don't want you using that".

Who told you that and where did you hear it?


National parks aren't like all other public lands...if they were, they wouldn't be the special places they are.


They were special places BEFORE they were national parks. Making them parks had nothing to do with them being special.


Can you imagine going to Yellowstone or Yosemite or Glacier or Shenandoah and having everyone's dogs running around? Or mountain bikers cruising all the hiking trails? Or boaters on all the lakes and streams?


First of all, noone is asking for dogs to run freely nor that mountain bikes be allowed on every trail or boats on every water. As I said before there may be reasons not to allow bikers or boaters on certain sections. But to deny that there are restrictions that come with NP status is denying reality. Those restricions - rightly or wrongly - discourage people from coming to those lands.

Yeah, Kings Canyon was so special they were logging the giant sequoias. At Petrified Forest they were stealing the fossilized wood, at Yellowstone they were hacking off pieces of travertine, even from Old Faithful.

The Smokies were almost deforested, at Everglades they were working to drain the river of grass, Acadia was in danger of being divided up for "cottages" known today as trophy homes, Death Valley was being mined, Olympic was being logged, etc etc.

As for reality, the Park Service does have a different mandate for managing its holdings than do the U.S. Forest Service and BLM, as I know you know.


As for reality, the Park Service does have a different mandate for managing its holdings than do the U.S. Forest Service and BLM, as I know you know.


Kurt- Those places are "special". They were special BEFORE they became NPs. NP status may have preserved that special status but it didn't make it. And to equate logging sequoias, stealing fossilized wood and hacking travertine to hiking with your dogs, biking or paddling a river is just absurd. The reality is NP status creates restrictions that may deter potential visitors. Again you can argue whether that is right or wrong but you can't argue that those restrictions don't exist. I can say for a fact, I am deterred from spending time in Yellowstone because I cant hike the trails with my dogs.

EC - very sorry to hear about Yellowstone's restrictions on your wife; that really does not seem fair.

Having said that, the more complete and accurate picture of reality is that NP status may create restrictions that may entice potential visitors, and may deter other potential visitors.

Yes, restrictions exist at NPs. That's kind of the point. Without restrictions they would be just like any other logged, mined, farmed, populated, trampled, over-recreated, and otherwise despoiled areas.

Yes, these places were special before they became NPs. But it's only because of NPs that they remain special. Without NPs SEKI would be chapparal, PEFO would be just another badland, GRSM would be bald mountains, EVER would be nothing more than West Miami, and ACAD would be just another congested seaside city.

As much as I love my dogs, it strikes me as selfish and foolish to think I should be able to take them along to any wilderness I desire. Dogs disrupt widlife, pick fights, get hurt, get wildlife hurt, spread disease, etc. It's generally a bad idea to bring them into the wild. The value of preservation of our limited remaining wilderness trumps the entitlement mentality one may have to do whatever one wants wherever one wants. It's "for the benefit and enjoyment of The People" not "for the benefit and enjoyment of ME ME ME!!!!"

If someone is deterred from visiting a park because they can't engage in whatever potentially harmful activity tickles their fancy, I would say "mission accomplished." Yellowstone, Yosemite, et al. aren't hurting for visitors.

EC- you aren't paying attention. Your use of "special" is strictly subjective. The folks draining the Everglades certainly did not view that land as "special". There was no "special status" to preserve as far as they were concerned. So in fact NP designation DID create a "special status" that we are all forced to recognize, like it or not. We have now agreed, by law, that this place is "special". This makes the use of the term a fact, not a subjective view held by some nature-loving, sawgrass hugger. You may love the Everglades; I may think they are a massive waste of land, but neither of us, as citizen-owners, can now deny their "specialness". Bear in mind this is by no means permanent; we could change our minds at any time and decide that the Everglades are not so "special" after all.

Went to Mt Reiner we hiked up the trail, saw this beautiful little meadow off to the right that looked like it was a trail. The sign said stay out and explained why. We came to a trail that did let us go inside a meadow that had interpretive signs that made it even more clear why we needed to stay on the trail, were satisfied and then kept on. No Problem!

It really isn't that hard to figure out for me. National Parks and national park lands all have a bigger overriding principal that supersedes mountain bikes, pets, fishermen, horses, ATVs and any number of modern toys that can be contrary to that mission. The idea that National Parks are my land (our land) doesn't sit well for me, brings to mind the "Tragedy Of The Commons" scenario. I like the idea that National Parks belong to the Flora, Fauna, special geological features and identified historical physical and cultural attributes present. They are living museums not gigantic play toys to be subdivided by special interest lobbyist. We are guests. The more people that visit the more restrictions imposed.

Unfortunatly we must have rules-- some people just don't think the 'rules" apply to them.Thats why no dogs in the park-- I have dogs and love them but I understand other people don't want to see a dog on a trail in Yellowstone or in any other Nat Park. If a dog sees a bear its going to start barking--- the next person coming along will miss the chance to see that bear. Plastic bottles? Yea I love taking plastic bottles with me when I kayak--- but in several of our spring feed rivers here in Florida they are outlawed--- why-- because some people throw them in the river. It ruins the whole experience for others to be in a wild place and see trash in the river.Thats why there has to be some restrictions. I've been to many Nat Parks-- am far from "rich" and have never felt any park was just for the "rich". Funny how the rich seem to get blamed for all kinds of things?

Buxton and Gutz- (and Kurt)

There are two issues here. Are the rules reasonable and the original question, do the rules deter people from coming to the parks. I think that there is little doubt that the latter is true - and that was the point that Quiet was making.

Now I happen to believe the two rules Gutz sited are silly. They are a typical case of the many being punished for the actions of a few. On the otherhand, rules against chisling travertine or stealing fozziized wood are reasonable, but then it doesn't take NP status to have those rules.

For Scott - those places were "special" long before man ever came to America. It wasn't NP status that made them special. Was it right to stop the draining of the Everglades? Sure, but it didn't require NP status to accomplish that.

ec...under state and local rules the land always seems to have less protection than the NPS provides. So if you believe in the protections the NPS provides, you would be "for" including special places under this protection. As for bringing more or less people to visit...I do not think that is NPS's primary mission.


I do not think that is NPS's primary mission.


And I don't think anyone here is arguing that it is. My only argument is that some restrictions that come with NP status are petty and deter some people from coming to the parks.

What is petty to some is important to others. For instance:

* Dogs bark, whether they're on leashes or locked in vehicles while their owners are strolling a trail or simply hitting a restroom. That's a sound many in the parks probably don't want to hear. Dogs also bark more when they see wildlife, and if not carefully tended by their owners can chase wildlife. They also tend to squat whenever the need strikes them. Unfortunately, not all dog owners pick up after their dogs.

* Many mountain bikers like to ride fast on single-track trails. Many hikers don't like to get in collisions with mountain bikers. Equestrians complain about mountain bikers, mountain bikers complain about equestrians.

* Kayakers and canoeists like to paddle rivers and streams. Folks admiring the Yellowstone River as it flows into the Hayden Valley of Yellowstone, or flying fishing the river, might not want to see paddlers on it. (That said, it doesn't seem to be an issue in nearby Grand Teton, where float trips and paddlers run the Snake River daily...)

As for park visitation, last year there was a 4 million increase in visitation from 2011 for the system as a whole, Yellowstone already has surpassed 1 million for this year, Yosemite Valley is struggling with crowds, as is the Grand Canyon's South Rim, lodging in many parks is booked for the summer season. That would not tend to indicate that very many people are deterred from visiting the parks due to any "petty" regulations.

Just an FYI, it is designation as "Wilderness," not National Park, that preserves land ("restrains human influences"). The National Parks have so much land designated as wilderness because that land was designated as wilderness before the NPS got it. The NFS, BLM, and Wildlife Service also have millions of acres designated wilderness. Some of this land is being considered for National Park status.

It seems to be easier to get land designated as wilderness than to get land designated as National Park. And personally, I would like to see much more land designated wilderness rather than national park. I love our national parks and visit any one of them as often as possible. But there are wilderness areas in the country that equal or surpass the national parks which I fear would be forever altered with national park designation.

dahkota,

Sorry, but I have to disagree with some of your statements on wilderness vs. national parks. I am a strong supporter of both and have been involved for years in both wilderness and national park campaigns. I think you have some mistaken information about both.

National parks existed for almost a century before the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964. There is no land that was designated as wilderness before it came under National Park Service administration. The reason so much of the National Park System is designated as wilderness is because 1) it was kept roadless and undeveloped by the National Park Service and 2) unlike the Forest Service and BLM, the park service is not a "multiple use" agency that wants as little wilderness as possible.

The National Park System has almost 44 million acres of wilderness. There are another 26 million acres of roadless areas in our parks that are recommended by the National Park Service for wilderness designation. The agency with the next-highest amount of wilderness is the Forest Service, with only 36 million acres, even though the National Forest System is more than twice the size of the National Park System. The National Wildlife Refuge System has 20 million acres of wilderness, but this is on a land base that is almost twice the size of the National Park System. The BLM has a pathetic 9 million acres of wilderness on a land base that is three times the size of the National Park System.

The National Forests and BLM lands have millions of acres of additional potential wilderness. However, these agencies oppose wilderness (as well as national parks) because they are off-limits to resource extraction. They do their best to prevent those designations. For decades, the only way to protect lForest Service and BLM lands from logging, grazing, mining, and other destructive activities was to take them away and designate them as national parks. The Wilderness Act was passed so that lands could be left with the Forest Service and BLM, but with an overlay that prohibits most industrial activities. Unfortunately, those agencies have never learned to appreciate wilderness and they have minimal resources to protect them or educate the public about them.

You are right that it is generally easier to designate wilderness than national parks. This is because in the 1990s, the Congress unwisely imposed a burdensome three-step process for studying and designating new national parks — congressional authorization of a study, a lengthy and cumbersome study process, and more congressional legislation to designate a park. The designation of wilderness requires only one step -- congressional legislation to designate it.

The National Park System is strongly supported by the public. There are dozens of national park proposals waiting for action. If we streamline the national park designation process, it will lead to a major wave of new parks across the country.

You should not worry that existing wilderness areas would be degraded it they were incorporated into national parks. In fact, the opposite is true. Wilderness is congressionally designated under the Wilderness Act. National park designation would not affect a previous wilderness designation.

In fact, that wilderness would have stronger protection than before. Livestock grazing is allowed under the Wilderness Act, due to a political compromise back in 1964. As a result virtually all National Forest and BLM wilderness areas allow livestock grazing -- even though it does tremendous damage to ecological and recreational values. Livestock grazing is not allowed in National Park System wilderness areas. So the strongest possible federal land protection is designated wilderness within a national park.

Only the lazy consider Wilderness Areas "off limits."

Park the car, get out, walk a few miles, and it's all yours.

Dogs barking on trails and bothering the wild-life i want to see and people throwing garbage around doesn't fall in the "silly" catagory in my opinion.....go figure

Kurt, your closer to the issue than I am.I'll stop beating around the bush here and come right out and say it's all about money.

I've said yes we need rules and want these lands perserved but the Natl Park Service should keep what they have and quite crying they need more money before one more Natl Park is added.

I've been to all 58 of the so called big Natl Parks,some are run the way they should be run and other are complete zoo's and I don't need to tell you that.

Yellowstone,Great Smoky Mountain,Yosemite just to name a few are parking lots not Natl Parks.Put a few more roads and parking area's in these parks so the people could enjoy these places.Some people go to these places once in a life time what do you think their take is after a visit a coffee cup or a t shirt.The last time I was at Yellowstone I said to myself I just can't stand this anylonger and drove out of the park and that was off season.

The average family isn't going to go to a place like Big Basin where they could experience what a real national park experience can be.

I love the Natl Parks but let's take care of what we have and quite the greed factor in the process.

Quiet Please: Yellowstone and Yosemite are not "parking lots". All you have to do is walk half a mile from the parking lot and you will find solitude. Ninety percent of the tourists in Yosemite, for example, crowd into Yosemite Valley, which isn't even 1% of the area of the park.

I have traveled to many famous cities and parks around the world and I have always been amazed by how 95+% of tourists hang out together in the usual places, missing a lot of wonderful uncrowded attractions that aren't as famous. For example, everyone wants to see Old Faithful, but there are other geysers in Yellowstone that are more spectacular, and completely uncrowded.

Hi Quiet please,

I am glad you love national parks. However, you are missing the big picture.

I have visited most of the full National Parks and more than 240 National Park System areas in total. I have always been able to find solitude and beauty, even in the so-called “zoo” parks at peak season. Yosemite is 89 percent designated wilderness. Why do you spend your time in Yosemite Valley Almost 92 percent of Yellowstone is recommended as wilderness. You couldn’t escape that 8 percent of the park? More than 74 percent of Great Smoky Mountains is recommended as wilderness. That is a lot of backcountry in which to spread out. I have been in “crowded” Acadia National Park on July 4th weekend, and hiked a beautiful trail on the west side of the park with no one else around. If you cannot get away from the crowds in our parks, I think you are hanging out in the wrong places.

Another wrongheaded idea is that we should not add any national parks because we do not have enough money to take care of the ones we have. That old chestnut was debunked long ago. For example:

“Each Park proposed will have powerful and insidious opposition. The insidious opposition to National Parks will say, ‘There is a feeling in Congress that we should not have any more National Parks at this time’; or, ‘We should wait until present ones are improved.’” Sound familiar? This was written by Enos Mills, the father of Rocky Mountain National Park, in his 1917 book, Our National Parks. It was a bogus excuse then, and it is bogus now.

"We have no money; we can do no harm." According to David Brower, National Park Service Director Newton Drury said this to a group of Sierra Club directors at a meeting in the late 1940s. It was in response to the perennial concern that the National Park Service budget was not big enough to ensure the protection of our parks. Drury understood that preserving wild nature does not require a big budget. Most expenses go for infrastructure and visitor services. Isle Royale, Voyageurs, North Cascades, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Guadalupe Mountains, and Gates of the Arctic National Parks do not have big budgets. They look pretty good to me.

In reality, the National Park Service is by far the best-funded federal land agency, and no doubt better funded than any state land agency. In Fiscal Year 2013, the National Park System budget for land protection and acquisition, education, and recreation programs is $28.60 per acre of parkland, versus only $6.66 per acre for the National Wildlife Refuge System, $2.34 for wilderness and special areas in the National Forest System, and $2.30 for the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System. Instead of protection, the budgets of the Forest Service and BLM are overwhelmingly devoted to resource extraction and development. In fact, wasteful and ineffective wildland fire “prevention” and “control” programs total 60 percent of the total Forest Service budget. The USFWS budget goes mostly to wildlife research, conservation, promotion, and enforcement programs that, while important, are largely unrelated to managing the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The most urgent thing facing our natural landscapes and historic sites today is that they are being destroyed by resource extraction and industrial development. Most of these areas are on public lands administered by the Forest Service and BLM. We need to focus on saving these areas from increasing exploitation before it is too late. The last thing we should be doing is waiting until the bean counters allocate “enough” money before we protect our disappearing natural and historic heritage.

The world-renowned conservation biologist, Edward O. Wilson, has his priorities straight.

“We should think about the use of national parks in mitigating the effects of climate change, promoting science and science education, saving endangered species, and increasing the quality of life in America by growing the parks in number, in total area, and accessibility to the American people…. We should be talking about expanding the National Park System, not scrambling for crumbs to keep it going. It should be part of the national vision of what will make America great.”
— Dr. Edward O. Wilson, National Parks magazine, Summer 2008

hikertom,enjoy those hikes,Peace


That would not tend to indicate that very many people are deterred from visiting the parks due to any "petty" regulations.


Kurt - citing a number of visitors provides no evidence for or against "deterence." There are 40+ million a year that get speading tickets. Would you argue that speed limits and patrol cars don't deter speeding? The fact that many do it doesn't mean many - even many more - aren't deterred.

There are approx. 43 million households with dogs - presumably, some of them might want to vacation in a park. Unfortunately the NP policy deters that.

Again, you can argue that that deterence is warranted but you can't argue it doesn't exist. And for me, there are far more things objectionable that are allowed than the occasional dog owner that doesn't control/clean-up after his dog.

I guess it comes down to your personal preference, ec. I don't see any NPS regs/rules that deter me from visiting the parks. I have dogs, but not being able to bring them to a park isn't an issue (and, actually, most parks allow you to bring your dogs, even Yellowstone. You just have to keep them leashed and within 100 feet of a road.)

As for cleaning up after dogs, if those 43 million households with dogs starting coming to the parks with their dogs, I'd venture there'd be a bigger mess than you envision...;-)

National Parks are open to everyone. But we're all not allowed to do whatever we want in National Parks--and for good reason. There are rules and deterents to using all sorts of things in our lives. Why single out National Parks' rules as being "petty"? We're not allowed to ride our bike or bring our dog into churches, schools, museums, football stadiums, the U.S. Capitol and more. We're not allowed to walk or pedal our bike on most interstate highways. The rules either protect safety, preserve civility or leave the shared thing in the same general working order for the next person to use and enjoy. It's part of life in a world of more than a scattering of people.


if those 43 million households with dogs starting coming to the parks with their dogs, I'd venture there'd be a bigger mess than you envision...


And of course, no one suggested that would be the case. By the way, what do you do with your dogs when you go to a park...put them in a kennel? I find that far more dispicable than a bark or random poop.


Why single out National Parks' rules as being "petty"?


I am certainly not singling out the National Parks. There are plenty of "petty" rules elsewhere. Nor do I deem all NP rules petty.