Reader Participation Day: Is The National Park System In Danger Of Becoming A Catchall System?
Is the National Park System in danger of turning into a catchall system? Should a site dedicated to the nuclear arms race, another to union organizers, and another to First Ladies really fall under an agency that started out preserving spectacular vistas and landscapes, that showcases Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon?
With the National Park Service soon to launch into its second century overseeing the park system, this would seem to be a timely question, as the agency already is stretched thin with budgetary and staffing issues. Can it afford to also be expected to be a sort of National Historic Service, an agency that oversees and interprets historic moments in the country that have no direct connection to the landscapes the agency was initially charged with overseeing?
This is not to question the significance of some of these sites that are finding their way into the National Park System, but rather to discuss the appropriateness of their inclusion under an agency tasked with conserving "... the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."