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Reader Participation Day: How Would You Design A National Park?


If you were given a blank piece of paper and asked to design a national park, what would you consider to be indispensable?

What, if any, commecial services would you include? Would there be lodging, and if so, how much and at what room price? What about roads? How many miles of them would you allow, and where would they lead? Would you place a hard limit on the size of buildings (both height-wise, and interior space)?

Would you set a specific limit on how much of paradise could be paved over? What visitor amenities would you see were provided? Would you want to restrict recreational amenities to activities that are in concert with the natural setting?

These are all timely questions in light of the effort to better manage the Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, to restore and rehabilitate things at Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park, and as Grand Canyon National Park officials continually wonder how they can reduce the human footprint on the South Rim of that wonderful park.

Tell us, travelers, how would you design the perfect national park?



I'm pretty much with Justin, less is more for me when it comes to design. I can do without the lodging or campgrounds or even visitor centers being inside a park in many cases. But 'perfect'? Surely that's a matter of individual and institutional perspective. I suspect NPS management would have a quite different opinion as to what constituted a 'perfect' park and how to strive for it. Here's some examples from my decades at Mount Rainier:


Build the highest density of roads in any western national park, but keep most of then closed to vehicles, full or part-time, except for "administrative use". They make access so much easier for Science and the many overworked managers in need of R & R at one of the numerous backcountry patrol cabins.


First, build a $2M Emergency Operations Center literally on the edge of a lahar-prone river.  Then, build a $25 million visitor center at a world-record snowfall station, so you must spend a million per year plowing the road to it daily, but close that road to the public at the flimsiest excuse. When design changes and ten-fold cost overruns delay VC completion, close the entire park to the public for six months and blame flooding, while construction continues through the winter.



Write a General Management Plan emphasizing the need for mass transit while the superintendent speculates in real estate outside the park. Present the terrain and climate as too dangerous for most visitors. To the greatest possible extent, have the public board buses at one concessioner's gift shop and exit at a different gift shop, preferrably with the minimum number of intermediate stops where escape from the canned tour might be possible.

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