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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.

SNOWMOBILERS, MOUNTAIN BIKERS, AND OTHER GROUPS ARE PUSHING FOR ACCESS. HOW WILL THIS ISSUE PLAY OUT?

Jerry Rogers As the population gets older, more people are less able to get out and do the actual footwork to really enjoy the park resources. And they’re more inclined to drive their motor homes into the park and have 50 amps of electricity and water and sewage hookups, and then they want to take their ORV and drive it on backcountry trails. The primary consequence of that trend will be that nature, archaeology, and the experience of visitors who don’t employ mechanized means will be impacted. So it’s difficult to say which species will be most harmed.

Clark Collins Some parks have designated wilderness in them, and in those areas, the right type of recreation should be accommodated–primitive, non-motorized recreation. But not all of our national parklands need to be managed as wilderness. We’ve got about 105 million acres of designated wilderness nationwide–some of that in national parks, some of it in other public lands. That’s an awful lot of acreage to accommodate the folks who seek that kind of experience.

Roderick Nash We have to realize these are special places and we can’t do all this stuff in these places. There are other spots where we can do those activities. I think it’s going to take an increased emphasis on ethics and values on what’s right and wrong with these parklands. It’s going to get into churches and schools and the places that normally build and communicate and teach our ethics. We know it’s wrong to steal; we should also be reminded that it is wrong to steal from other species.

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