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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." 


Whenever culture becomes "culture", it is usually referring to someone else's culture.

When I see the NPS announcing things like this "National Park Service To Look At American History Of Lesbians, Gays, Transgenders, And Bi-Sexuals" I'd say describing it as a catchall system is being kind. They  have seriously lost their way.

I would prefer to see them stick to preservation of natural wonders and leave monuments, historic places & "culture" to others.

disambiguating history from political history can be pretty tricky.


More likely completely impossible.

Yep (what ecbuck said:).


Nice post, Lee, although disambiguating history from political history can be pretty tricky.

"And the back seat of one of his cars" 

I love it!

Generally agree with you Lee except that being a member of Congress doesn't necessarily disqualify one from really contributing - though it may be a major impediment. 

We should certainly dump the "ego parks."  Those homes, birthplaces, and all the other places associated in some way with a past president -- except for those who had profound effects on our nation's history, such a Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson and a few others.

How many places have been designated or proposed to recall Clinton?  Three?  Not sure and don't want to look it up.  But so far it seems that his birthplace, boyhood home, and back seat of one of his cars have been proposed.

While we're at it, let's ban the naming of Federal buildings, courthouses, highways, dams, bridges and other structures for the Congresscritter who dragged home the pork needed to build a monument to himself.  They could be named, instead, in honor of people who have really contributed something to the country.  People like Medal of Honor recipients or those whose work to improve medical care, education, culture or other worthy efforts is really worth remembering.


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