3 Long Park Articles for Holiday Reading

Looking for something to read as you sip your eggnog? I've got a few articles here that are a little longer than the "just the facts" pieces of most newspaper items. Each one may give you a little more insight into the wide-world of parkdom.

#1 Saving a National Treasure
Subtitled "FHWA and the National Park Service embark on a monumental restoration of Montana's historic Going-to-the-Sun Road", by the time you are done with this one, you'll know more about the Sun Road in Glacier National Park than you thought possible.
Today the Sun Road has more than 475,000 vehicles traveling it during Glacier's peak visitor season from June to October, or about 3,500 vehicles per day. Approximately 80 percent of the park's two million annual visitors travel the road, according to park surveys.

However, 70 years of rockslides and avalanches, severe weather, heavy traffic, and inadequate maintenance left the road in urgent need of repair. Without aggressive action, the historic structures for which the Sun Road is so admired might have been lost forever.

#2 The Light Preserver
I think lighthouses are cool. Not sure why I feel that way. This article is about a guy with a unique job. He takes care of the old Fresnel Lenses in some lighthouses around the country, including the Old Point Loma Lighthouse in Cabrillo National Monument. Interesting work.
He steps outside the Old Point Loma Lighthouse in San Diego, perched hundreds of feet above the Pacific Ocean overlooking the California-Mexico border. Dozens of school children scurry around on field trips to the lighthouse and the national park surrounding it.

With the water so many sailors have navigated rolling into rocks below, a foghorn sounding faintly in the distance, Cocking takes pride knowing what he's done for maritime history.

"This is part of our past. Not only did it guide the ships in with people, but it's commerce, which made the country what it is today," he said. "They're no longer manufactured. They're priceless. They're a functional work of art."

#3 Old but Faithful
This article takes a close look at the park advocacy group called the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. To read this article, you've got to be a subscriber. But, the High Country News does offer a free 30 trial for the web. The article is worth the hassle of filling in the forms for the subscription.
Wade and Arnberger lead a group that formed almost by accident, but has since been a highly effective check on the Bush administration's attempts to reorder use of the national parks. In May 2003, Wade was one of three retired senior leaders of the National Park Service asked to speak at a Washington, D.C., press conference by a now-defunct conservation organization. As they prepared a letter to then-Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton voicing their concerns, the three began looking for others who might want to sign on.

"I don't remember sitting around saying we ought to form a group of retirees," Wade recalls. "It wasn't until we started getting these phone calls saying, 'I want my name on the letter, and by the way, I want to be informed when these things are happening.' It was like someone hit us over the head with a two-by-four, and we said, 'Hmm, there's a message here.' "

I'm going to take a few days off for the holidays. See you next week.