Wilderness Preserved

National Parks, state parks, and National Forests are different, have different goals.

Various kinds of parks and forests are a key piece of the story of preserving wilderness (by its strongest definition), but that isn't the reason they were originally set up (at least before WWII)
From ideas to policy:
natural bridge

What are the different purposes for which a park might be created?

hot spring and
              mountains in Yellowstone
Preserving Yellowstone happened fast
Adirondacks, 1879, by Homer Dodge Martin
The fight to preserve the Adirondacks also initially avoided wilderness claims
"The Adirondack Wilderness contains the springs which are the sources of our principal rivers, and the feeders of the canals. Each summer the water supply for these rivers and canals is lessened, and commerce has suffered...

The immediate cause has been the chopping and burning off of vast tracts of forest in the wilderness, which have hitherto sheltered from the sun's heat and evaporation the deep and lingering snows, [and] the brooks and rivulets ...

Now the winter snows that accumulate on the mountains, unprotected from the sun, melt suddenly and rush down laden with disaster...

The remedy for this is the creation of an Adirondack Park or timber preserve, under charge of a forest warden and deputies. The "burning off" of mountains should be visited with suitable penalties; the cutting of pines under ten inches or one foot in diameter should be prohibited. The officers of the law might be supported per capita tax, upon sportsmen, artists, and tourists visiting the region; a tax which they would willingly pay if the game should be protected from unlawful slaughter, and the grand primeval forest be saved from ruthless desolation.

The interests of commerce and navigation demand that these forests should be preserved; and for posterity should be set aside, this Adirondack region, as a park for New York, as is the Yosemite for California and the Pacific States."
mountain and lake in adirondacks
different parks are created for different reasons
  • but in all the early cases for human benefit--either for tourists or for water supply
  • you don't yet have the argument that wilderness should be preserved for its own sake

This page written and copyright Pamela E. Mack
last updated 2/24/10
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