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Backpacker Magazine – November/December 2005

The Future Of National Parks

Everyone loves national parks--but are they being loved to death? Join representatives from the Park Service, Department of the Interior, Sierra Club, American Hiking Society, and more to explore the fate of this embattled American institution.

by: Peter Flax, BACKPACKER Executive Editor

J.T. Reynolds We need to think about what's good for business. If we want these resources to last a long time, don't have a recreational pursuit that's going to have a negative impact. Here in Death Valley, we have many miles of four-wheel-drive roads, and that should be encouraged. And if someone wants to mountain bike on those roads, so be it. But to just strike out and create trails so bikes can go off-road, I'd say no.

Greg Miller Right now it's turning into a free-for-all because the government has allowed so many well-funded special interests to come into play. And the hiking community has let the motorized recreation community, which arguably has the highest negative impact of any activity, to usurp our role as recreationists. We have to go back to the numbers and look at the 75-plus million people who call themselves hikers and then another 14 or 15 million backpackers--that's a large cross-section of America. We need to be more active.

Gale Norton There's going to be continuing tension. I'd like to see recreation use continue because I think it's important for people to connect with the outdoors. A lot of people have to enjoy what they're doing to build that connection.

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