Preserving Nature in the National Parks: A History

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1997 Hardcover Excellent jacket **An EXCELLENT book at a sensible price. Clean, crisp, unmarked pages. Immaculate text. Both cover and DJ excellent. A wonderful history of ... biological conservation in the national parks. Value for the price. We ship within 24 hours, carefully wrapped! We sell books from New to Acceptable. We take care to be accurate in our description. Most of our books were gently read and in fine condition. BNCTucsonbooks ships daily. Proceeds from the sales of books support an endowed scholarship to Brande. Read more Show Less

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New Haven, CT 1997 Hard cover NEW, Hardcover edition. ISBN 0300069316 New in new dust jacket. NEW, Hardcover edition. ISBN 0300069316 Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 400 p. ... Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. NEW, Hardcover edition. ISBN 0300069316 Read more Show Less

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Overview

This book traces the epic clash of values between traditional scenery-and-tourism management and emerging ecological concepts in the national parks, America's most treasured landscapes. It spans the period from the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872 to near the present, analyzing the management of fires, predators, elk, bear, and other natural phenomena in parks such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Great Smoky Mountains.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
A historian with the National Park Service traces the clash of values between traditional scenery management for tourists and environmental concerns from the creation of Yellowstone National Parks in 1872 to the present. Drawing largely on original documents, he analyzes the management of fires, predators, elk, bear, and other natural phenomena in such parks as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite Valley, the Teton Mountains, and of course Yellowstone itself. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
A dry but useful academic study of misguided federal resource management and ecological experimentation.

"Nature preservation—especially that requiring a thorough scientific understanding of the resources intended for preservation—is an aspect of park operations in which the [National Park] Service has advanced in a reluctant, vacillating way," writes Sellars, a historian with the Park Service. More directly put, his study shows how the Park Service has throughout its existence allowed the preservation of endangered species and habitats to be governed by changes in administrations and political styles. Charged with the divided mission of maximizing "recreational tourism and public enjoyment of majestic landscapes" on the one hand, and keeping undisturbed large sections of wild land on the other, the service has generally favored the first, putting science in the backseat. Among Sellars's cases in point is a scientific survey in Yellowstone National Park that involved marking grizzly bears' ears with colored tags, a survey halted in part because tourists complained about the bears' odd appearance. He goes on to charge that as the Park Service grows in size, its ranks are increasingly filled with part-timers and "technicians," not with dedicated scientists who can train the government's resources on analyzing the ecosystems under its charge. Regrettably, many of his most interesting observations are buried in his endnotes, in which he tells, among other tidbits, the story of the Park Service's transferring a mountain in Colorado to the Forest Service after a rock slide altered its face and, presumably, obliterated its scenic grandeur.

Sellars does not make the reader's task an easy or pleasant one—a shame, because he has much to say to those interested in the way national resources are managed.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300069310
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/23/1997
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.55 (h) x 1.16 (d)

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Preface


The national park system contains some of the most recognizable natural features on this continent. Such sublime scenery as the Grand Canyon, the Yosemite Valley and Half Dome, Old Faithful, and the Teton Mountains are familiar to millions. These and other landscape icons of the system symbolize the romantic nationalism that has always sustained public support of national parks. The celebrated geography of high mountains and vast open spaces has helped perpetuate a kind of "From the New World" fantasy—the parks as virgin land—which has long enhanced America's national park movement.

In part because of their great symbolic beauty, the national parks have been easy to write about with enthusiasm and effusion. Early studies, and many works published by the National Park Service itself, have tended to glorify the founding fathers of the Park Service and extol the expansion of the system. Although the founders deserve much credit, and expansion has certainly been important, the appeal of this zealous approach has diminished. Recent scholars have written not so much about how the parks came to be created and who promoted them, but about how they were treated after their establishment. As a study of the management of nature in the parks, this book belongs in the latter category.

Nature preservation-especially that requiring a thorough scientific understanding of the resources intended for preservation-is an aspect of park operations in which the Service has advanced in a reluctant, vacillating way. The analysis that follows is at times critical of the Park Service. Indeed, writing National Park Servicehistory from within runs some risks-but it also enjoys certain advantages. As a historian with the Park Service for more than two decades, I have had the opportunity to observe the Service closely and to refine my understanding of its culture and corporate psyche. I have had ready access to the files and to the thoughts of fellow employees and retirees. Each individual held strong opinions about what the Service has been and should be, and discussed national park management with a high degree of candor and openness.

It is my hope that this book will inform future efforts of the Park Service, the public, and the Congress to address national park issues. To prepare for the future, it is important first to analyze the past with as much clarity and impartiality as can be mustered.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction 1
Ch. 1 Creating Tradition: The Roots of National Park Management 7
Ch. 2 Codifying Tradition: The National Park Service Act of 1916 28
Ch. 3 Perpetuating Tradition: The National Parks under Stephen T. Mather, 1916-1929 47
Ch. 4 The Rise and Decline of Ecological Attitudes, 1929-1940 91
Ch. 5 The War and Postwar Years, 1940-1963 149
Ch. 6 Science and the Struggle for Bureaucratic Power: The Leopold Era, 1963-1981 204
Ch. 7 A House Divided: The National Park Service and Environmental Leadership 267
Abbreviations 291
Notes 293
Acknowledgments 361
Index 365
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