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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.

TRAFFIC JAMS CAN SNARL THE SMOKIES, YOSEMITE, AND OTHER PARKS. HOW CAN WE FIX THIS PROBLEM?

Gale Norton Congestion is an issue in several parks. It’s something that requires planning to address. We just received additional funding in the highway bill that Congress passed [in July 2005] that will give us more than $200 million a year for maintenance for existing roads.

Roderick Nash We have to come back to the idea that the wilderness experience is not something many people can share together. It’s not a rock concert. This is something that by definition involves solitude. People are going to have to wait their turn.

Don Barry We need to do everything we can to keep our parks available to the public, but we need to be smarter at how we do it. One example is the new transportation system in Zion. It’s fabulous. The park is quiet again and people are seeing wildlife along roads where they hadn’t seen them in years. We need to look for ways to apply that model in other parks. The only alternative is when we hit that daily limit we can’t let anyone else in, and that’s a big mistake.

Mike Tollefson Yosemite is heavily visited. The big challenge is how we accommodate population expansion in California. Our shuttle system is part of the answer. Shuttle bus use has gone up by a million riders in the last year. Visitation hasn’t changed–people just haven’t been moving their cars around. I’m guessing 30 years from now we’ll have a shuttle system from Badger to Glacier Point that’s more “Zionesque.”

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