Tag Archives: Readings

Readings: Wilderness in National Parks

Joshua Tree National Park

In his engrossing¬†Wilderness in National Parks: Playground or Preserve, John C. Miles, professor of environmental studies at Western Washington University, traces the history of wilderness protection in the parks from their earliest days to the book’s present, 2008.

The history of the National Parks and other protected lands in the United States is the story of continually evolving ideas about how and why natural and historical areas should be protected for the common good. At its noblest, it is an acknowledgement that the people, collectively, own and administer the wildest, most beautiful and most historically important areas in the nation. The hows and whys of acquiring and administering these places is intrinsically tied to the concept of land held for the common good.

Almost 150 years ago, on June 30, 1864, Abraham Lincoln signed a bill granting scenic Yosemite Valley to the state of California to be held in the public interest as a park (eventually the valley would return to federal control as part of Yosemite National Park). Eight years later, when Congress moved to protect the geothermal features around the headwaters of the Yellowstone River in a region that lay in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho territories, there was no state to give the park to, so by default it became a national park. The concept of the national park was born out of necessity.

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Readings

I’m about half way through the revised edition of Tim McNulty’s Olympic National Park, A Natural History.

It was an Easter gift from Sean, along with the new seventh edition of the National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States, both of which I’d asked for. What I hadn’t asked for, but which is intriguing, was the National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of Canada. A whole other world…literally.

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Readings

Virtually every project I’ve ever undertaken has begun with, or sometimes extended from, reading. And this National Parks project is no exception. My old, beloved copy of the Reader’s Digest Our National Parks from childhood is sorely outdated, both stylistically and factually. So I turned my attention, at least to start, to this volume:

National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States, Sixth Edition, March 2009.

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