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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.

Don Barry Here’s one statistic that turned me on a dime: Snowmobiles in the park represented only 16 percent of the vehicles but generated 65 to 70 percent of the pollution.

Clark Collins I think snowmobile use is entirely appropriate in Yellowstone and Denali and Voyageurs. I’m concerned about the pressure that’s being applied by folks who don’t want certain types of recreation to take place in our national parks. Our parks need to be protected and users need to be concerned about their impact, but I think our national parks are for the pleasure of the American public.

Mark Udall I thought we should cut back on snowmobile use to protect the resources and health of the rangers and other users. The snowmobile industry had years to build cleaner, quieter engines, and it’s begun to take those steps. But there are thousands of miles that can be traveled in that West Yellowstone region by snowmobiles and I think there ought to be some areas left to the quiet sounds of winter.

HOW DOES THE FUTURE LOOK FOR PARK SERVICE EMPLOYEES?

Michael Frome There are many good people in the National Park Service; there aren’t many in the leadership. One of my friends said to me: “Don’t give us more money–we’ll do the wrong thing with it.” If there is more money, they’ll build more roads and improve concessions. And give raises to people who don’t deserve them.

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