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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.


Roderick Nash The great era of park creation is over, and now the challenge is how to use the areas we set aside.

Robert Arnberger The certain death of the National Park Service is to stop where it’s at. It should always be reserved for the best and the brightest examples of what we are as a people. There may not be new natural areas, but there will be historic or cultural areas. You’ve got to remember that more than two-thirds of the system consists of historical areas, places that mark who we are as American people and the evolution of our thinking. We have several park areas that were camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II, where people were held against their will. These are places where we can learn about what we have done so that we don’t repeat our mistakes.

Gale Norton The trend is to manage those areas within the existing federal ownership. What happened in the past was the conversion of land from the BLM to national parks. Today, the BLM is seeing an incredible increase in its recreation use. So I don’t think we need to convert those lands into national parks.

Bruce Hamilton We should create a tallgrass prairie national park. You’d have migrating bison, wolves, bears, even bighorn sheep. Two representative samples of this are the Flint Hills in Kansas and the Osage Hills in Oklahoma.

Dave Foreman The park service had a program to try to have national parks in all different ecosystems in the United States. We need to get serious about that again: Maine Woods, turning Hells Canyon into a national park. Of course we aren’t going to get anywhere with that under the current administration.

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