National Parks are highly recognized structures of American history that are treated with much respect by those who wish to preserve the parks. As Americans, we are blessed to have our government create the National Park Service to help preserve, protect, and share the history of this land and its people. The National Park Service works with historians, American Indian tribes, state and local governments, and non-profit organizations who believe in American heritage.They all want to preserve national parks to the best of their ability. So far, these organizations have come up with $1.2 billion in preservation grants, $30 billion in historic rehabilitation tax credit projects, 2,400 National Historic Landmarks, and 27 National Heritage Areas. The National Park Service has also developed standards and guidelines for historic rehabilitation projects, offers “how to” advice for hands-on preservationists, and helps find new owners for historic lighthouses. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior there are 27,000 significant structures and 66,000 archeological sites in national parks. The National Park Service has done a job well done so far, or have they?
After talking about what goes on to “preserve” a national park, it raises one important question, “Is a national park truly preserved?”. We need to take a few things into consideration before we answer the question. How does human invasion of a national park effect it’s preservation? Roads, camping sites, and attractions have been created all throughout the parks to give humans ease of access and to make the experience much more enjoyable. Thousands of vehicles travel the roads on a daily basis. Thousands of people camp throughout the parks on a daily basis. Allowing people to drive through or camp in a national park adds to the negative effects of pollution. The roads and camping sites will also leave a permanent impression on the land, taking away from the park’s preserved state. The roads and camping sites also take away from the natural state of a national park. Lets be honest, most national parks revolve around a preserved nature. Nature is defined as, by the Encarta Dictionary, “the environment in a condition relatively unaffected by human activity or as the home of living things other than human beings.” Furthermore, the Encarta Dictionary defines preserve as follows, “to keep something protected from anything that would cause its current quality or condition to change or deteriorate or cause it to fall out of use”.
I was in shock after reading this definition. If you take this definition to heart then it is very hard to see a National Park as something being preserved. The definition made me realize that people have turned national parks into more of a tourist attraction. The addition of roads, camping sites, and attractions greatly defeat the whole purpose of “preserving” a national park. Don’t get me wrong, I am very glad to see people doing something to set aside land that can not be touched, or destroyed completely, but I believe that something that is preserved should be original. If a national park were to be “truly” preserved, then the land should look the same as it did when the Indians lived off of it.
I hope I have been able to help people expand on their thoughts of preserving a national park and would like to see if people minds have changed from the beginning to the end of this article.