America’s National Parks Were Never Wild and Untouched

In 1872, Congress created the first national park, Yellowstone, so that its scenic features would be “dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” Other parks followed, including Sequoia and Yosemite in 1890, Mount Rainier in 1899, and Crater Lake in 1902. In 1916, Congress passed the Organic Act creating the National Park Service and directing it “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” Ever since, the Park Service has guarded some of the planet’s most spectacular scenery, leaving it, at least seemingly, unimpaired. To be sure, park officials invited guests in as they promoted “the enjoyment of future generations,” but human enterprise was meant to be confined to the hotels, visitor centers, and roads … Continue reading America’s National Parks Were Never Wild and Untouched