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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.

Dave Foreman I haven’t been able to hike for 2 years because of back surgery. I don’t know if I’ll ever backpack again. If I can’t, that’s no reason to demand jeep access to desert parks. Parks don’t exist to give me a thrill. [Former NPS director] Roger Kennedy once said that while the national parks’ purpose is for pleasure, it does not mean reckless glee. Any biker or snowmobiler has the same opportunity for access to any national park that I do. The problem is people don’t see themselves as separate from their machines.

Don Barry There are places where some things are just not appropriate. Driving a motorcycle through a national park–no problem. Driving a motorcycle up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial–I don’t think so. If you say, “Leave your motorcycle in the parking lot,” are you denying the public access to the Lincoln Memorial? No.

SHOULD SNOWMOBILES CONTINUE TO CRUISE THROUGH YELLOWSTONE?

Gale Norton I feel very good about the current compromise. The newest generation of snowmobiles has cut emissions by 90 percent or more. The number of snowmobiles has been restricted, and we’ve required the use of different entrances so you don’t have all the snowmobiles sitting in one spot running their engines. I was there and spent several days going around the park–it was fabulous. Winter is truly the most magical time to be in Yellowstone.

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