What, if anything, can looking back at an earlier period of rapid change following a presidential election reveal about what the future might hold for environmental, health and preservation policies?
In his most recent Letter from Woodstock long time National Park Service leader Rolf Diamant paints a bigger and more complex picture of the creation of the National Park idea than the fabled Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir camping trip. He asks that we keep before us this broader vision of the National Parks. This will be particularly challenging in the hard times ahead when the temptation will be to retreat into a defensive posture to protect park funding and resources.
At his confirmation hearing on January 17, 2017, Representative Ryan Zinke (R MT) spoke up before the Senate Environment and Energy Committee and shared his vision for the position of Secretary of Interior. The leadership of the Department of Interior is central to the future of protecting the nation’s landscapes. Those who care about conservation at scale, protected areas, and our cultural heritage were listening carefully to what he had to say.
For years I have told my family and friends that I am one issue voter and my one issue is the United States National Park Service. Which political candidate is most committed to America’s best idea? Who embraces the vision that our parks and protected areas are part of the nation’s common wealth and should reflect the complex stories that make up our country? What party recognizes that government service has value and that protecting public lands is a collective enterprise? While it is a bit early to predict exactly how landscape scale conservation will fare in the next four years under President-elect Trump, review of his proposed agenda is instructive.
Over the past year, we’ve been examining the National Park Service in the context of its 100th anniversary. We considered whether the NPS should expand its “brand”; looked at the history of Mission 66; evaluated the idea of certain parks being “crown jewels”; and argued for a more nuanced understanding of the NPS’ recent post World War II history. We’ve also been compiling a list of key documents and reports for thinking about the future of the agency. Here are five that are worth taking a look at as the centennial winds down.