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Eclectic Perspectives for the Study of National Parks

Cynthia McDaniels

Contents of Curriculum Unit 90.03.05:

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The concept of national parks date back to antiquity. Some of the earliest parks were established by Persian kings to provide an exclusive area for sports and hunting. Later the Romans and Greeks developed open air facilities as public meeting places for athletic events. The Renaissance period in Europe witnessed the growth of the idea of national parks, to the extent that woods extended over many square miles with raised galleries set aside in various locations.

The Muslim park tradition has been influential in the religious and social order of Islam in different parts of the world. The original Muslim idea was to think of the garden (park) as a paradise, a symbol of the afterlife as an oasis of beauty blooming in the earth’s desert. Water and cypress were the key elements found in the parks. Water symbolized purity against sins, and cypress trees offered protection against strong winds, which could blow in evil forces. On a more mundane level, water is used for irrigation and cooling purposes and trees provide shade to guard against harsh sunlight. Parks are places for reflection and relaxation.

In Africa, the idea of national parks also existed historically. In countries where communalism was descriptive of the social and political systems, the public land was used for hunting and sporting endeavors. The land was jointly owned by the entire group, with the ruling strata holding the land in trust. With colonization and its economic and political ramifications, it became expedient to formally designate areas that would be protected and maintained by the government. In many cases, the catalysts that led to their creation, was an overwhelming need for animal protection and tourism.

Webster defines national parks as “an area of special scenic, historical, or scientific importance set aside and maintained by a national government and in the United States, by an act of Congress.” With the scientific and historical attributes inherent in the definitive concept of national parks, it is almost axiomatic that the study of national parks rightful placement in the core curriculum would be history, science, and ecological and environmentally-oriented programs. A review of curriculum guides reveal that most references to national parks are part of the social studies units on environment, and in science, the ecology and geology components. However, within the conventional approaches to the study of national parks, innovative strategies can be developed to teach many subjects across the disciplines.

Global perspectives for examining phenomena is rapidly gaining momentum. It is increasingly acknowledged in most fields, that knowledge is becoming less peculiar to its form and to geographical considerations. Such a broad premise for intellectual and phenomenal discourse has innumerable positive benefits. For example, by studying the salient characteristics of the notion of U.S. national parks, invaluable insight can be gleaned about parks in other regions of the world, thus promoting an appreciation for the differences and similarities of parks worldwide.

By approaching studies from several dimensions, knowledge is acquired in greater depth and viewed from more than one perspective. A multidisciplinary approach to the study of national parks, allows for an appreciation of natural phenomena, literature, research, history, science, and many aspects of the social sciences. By formulating instructional objectives that connect disciplines and sensory perceptions, knowledge is not only reinforced, but enriched and experienced. National parks, for instance, can focus on essential values that promote responsible participation in local communities and the world at large. Such intellectual stimulation can precipitate healthy action and can have a healthy effect on the individual and the environment.

Affective education which addresses the value aspects of moral development is a vital component in both the formal and nonformal curricula. Traditionally, values transmitted by nonschool agencies, such as family and church, were assigned the important role of character developer. The universal principles, such as commitment, respect, dignity, honesty, and so forth, are essential in the process of good character formation. Though these principles vary in their interpretation and manifestations in different societies, they are valued by mankind and are incorporated in both the cultural traditions and educational systems. Values are most commonly based in psychology, philosophy, and religion. Increasingly, the direction of values are channeled into the formal educational arena and grouped under the subject headings of civics and moral education. Within this framework, focus is on value development, clarification, and articulation. Here again, the study of parks can be used to teach respect for life forms, commitment to action to preserve nature, aesthetics in nature, the intrinsic value in leisure, and tolerance of the views of others.

Parks serve a variety of purposes and service a large and divergent constituency. Perhaps the most popular and primary use of national parks is its provisions for recreation in a passive mode, surrounded by nature’s awesome wonders. As the world becomes more industrialized, the undesirable effects of modernity, such as pollution, overcrowding, crime, alienation, will increasingly require mankind to make a conscious effort to provide sanctuaries that are free of the trappings of development, namely national parks.

The goal of this part of the unit are threefold. It is imperative to introduce the conceptual underpinnings and definitive attributes of national parks. Mastery of the essential prerequisites paves the way for specific focus on selected national parks and the examination of issues that feature in the national park movement.

National parks have played a unique role in the history of the United States and are destined to maintain its unique position in the future environmental configuration. The literature is replete with works that examine the issues relating to national parks. Alfred Runte’s National Parks gives a comprehensive history, with specific focus on culturalism and monumentalism. According to Runte, the park movement developed first and foremost from a need for Americans to compensate for a perceived historical and cultural deficit.

“In response to constant barbs about these deficiencies from Old World critics and New World apologists, by the 1860s many thoughtful Americans had embraced the wonderlands of the West as replacements for man-made marks of achievement. The agelessness of monumental scenery instead of the past accomplishments of Western Civilization was to become the visible symbol of continuity and stability in the New Nations.”1

Essentially, the early pioneers were motivated by a sense of pride in their country and the establishment of a ‘national’ monument that would equal, if not supersede, some aspects of their European cultural heritage. James Fennimore Cooper in the Home of the Picturesque pursued this theme in his writings, along with other prominent contemporaneous Americans such as Washington Irving and William Cullen Bryant. Cooper acknowledged that, although Europe’s castles, ruins, and abbeys would never be eclipsed, the U.S. had earth monuments.

Expansionalism, when coupled with culturism, added momentum and strength to the establishment of parks. America was broadening its borders with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 from France, the acquisition of the Pacific Northwest from Great Britain in 1846, and finally the control of California and the Southwest from Mexico after defeating the Spanish. The expansionist stance became embedded in America’s ethos. Cooper, while never relinquishing the cultural aspects, includes expansion in relationship to park development.

“It must be admitted that Europe offers to the senses sublimer views and certainly grander, than are to be found within our own borders unless we resort to the Rocky Mountains, and the ranges in California and New Mexico.”2

Joseph Sax in Mountains Without Handrails, related expansionalism to aesthetics as a contributing topic to national park development. In Chapter one, entitled the “Quiet Genesis”, the promise that America’s frontier would be open to the public and not sacrificed to the private sector, extended to national parks.

“The application of that principle to the great scenic wonders could not be realized by granting a sequoia grove or Grand Canyon to each citizen. But it was possible to preserve spectacular sites for the average citizen by holding them as public places to be used and enjoyed by everyone.”3

The enjoyment that Sax alluded to, embraced some of the zeal and fervor that characterized the Rocky Mountain School of Art, Music, Photography and other art forms. John Muir, Frederick Law Olmsted, Aldo Leopold and others, cited the unique esoteric and aesthetic qualities inherent in the wilderness in national parks. John Muir wrote,

“Everything here is marching to music, and the harmonies are all so simple and young they are easily apprehended by those who will keep still and listen and look . . . ”4

In the same vain, Olmsted, an architect, stated,

“In the interest which natural scenery inspires . . . the attention is aroused and the mind occupied without purpose, without a continuation of the common process of relating the present action, thought or perception to some future end. There is little else that has this quality so purely.”5

Norman MacLean, in his autobiographical story, “A River Runs Through It,” views the park as a unique place that enriches any activity. His description of flyfishing evokes the contemplative faculties.

“I can lie for hours at a time and watch the flow of a little stream . . . the secret vagaries of current are clearly revealed here . . . A fold or break of current, a burst of bubbles or the ripple of a stone. . . . releases in me a flood of satisfaction that must, I think, be akin to that which a philosopher feels as his mind is opened to a profound truth.”6

Many writers have made significant contributions to park literature. Their insight, commitment and activities have helped to preserve America’s parklands and encourage millions to visit the parks each year to have positive encounters with nature. Values, knowledge, and physical activities are all part of the park experience.

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An Introduction to U.S. National Parks

The activities in the first part of this unit are designed to familiarize students with the national park development in a number of ways. A simple outline map and a comprehensive list of parks, introduces the learner to the extensive distribution of parks throughout continental U.S. and several territories. Exercises using mathematical concepts, not only communicate content, but also reinforces mathematical operations, and illustrates their applicability to other disciplines. The fact sheet outlines key facts that are pertinent to U.S. Parks. Major legislation, statistics, history, and an assortment of data, clearly illustrates the seriousness of the park movement. With such diverse information available, both the teacher and student can be quite imaginative and embellish the skeletal outline with the settings and circumstances involved in the park system. A student, for instance, can thoroughly research an item and report findings to the class. The debating exercise and speeches allows the learner the opportunity to practice oral skills and analyze divergent positions, which are imperative to effective communication. Vocabulary development increases the learner’s capacity to participate more fully in the communication process. While some terms have special meaning in the context of national parks, others are useful words that enrich vocabulary on a general basis. Also, mastery of specific terminology is a prerequisite to the comprehension of the reading passages.

The objectives of lesson one are:

1. To identify regions where U.S. Parks are located.
2. To compare the size and distribution of parks.
3. To know important numerical information, including dates and statistics about national parks.
4. To increase vocabulary related to national parks.
5. To practice debating techniques using park issues.
6. To know about problems inherent in park system.
7. To understand different perspectives of park issues.
8. To increase reading capacity.


1. Outline map of U.S.
2. List of parks in U.S. and Territories
3. Selected facts about the history, economics, and management of U.S. Parks
4. Essays on contrasting positions on issues and experiences


1. Park location and placement
2. Mathematical calculations and problem solving
3. Group processes—teamwork
4. Public speaking—speech and debate

The United States

(figure available in print form)



1. Locate the states in which the national parks and national monuments are located in and fill in the outline map.
2. Which states have the greatest number of national parks?
3. What region of the U.S. are they located in?
4. Calculate the acreage of land for each state and determine rank in descending order.
5. Which states have the greatest number of national monuments?

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National Park Numerical Fact Sheet

State(s) Acreage
Acadia Maine 38,523
Arches Utah 73,378
Badlands South Dakota 243,302
Big Bend Texas 708,118
Biscayne Florida 180,275
Bryce Canyon Utah 35,835
Canyonlands Utah 337,570
Capitol Reef Utah 241,904
Carlsbad Caverns New Mexico 46,755
Channel Islands California 249,353
Crater Lake Oregon 160,290
Denali Alaska 4,698,583
Everglades Florida 1,398,800
Gates of the Arctic Alaska 7,498,066
Glacier Montana 1,013,594
Glacier Bay Alaska 3,220,396
Grand Canyon Arizona 1,218,375
Grand Teton Wyoming 310,515
Great Smoky Mountains North Carolina, Tennessee 517,368
Guadalupe Mountains Texas 76,293
Haleakala Hawaii 28,655
Hawaii Volcanoes Hawaii 229,177
Hot Springs Arkansas 5,826
Isle Royale Michigan 571,796
Katmai Alaska 3,678,929
Kenai Fjords Alaska 676,667
Kings Canyon California 460,139
Kobuk Valley Alaska 1,749,037
Lake Clark Alaska 2,633,933
Lassen Volcanic California 106,372
Mammoth Cave Kentucky 52,128
Mesa Verde Colorado 52,085
Mount Rainier Washington 235,404
North Cascades Washington 504,780
Olympic Washington 908,720
Petrified Forest Arizona 93,492
Redwood California 109,225
Rocky Mountain Colorado 263,790
Sequoia California 403,023
Shenandoah Virginia 194,301
Theodore Roosevelt North Dakota 70,351
Virgin Islands Virgin Islands 14,708
Voyageurs Minnesota 219,128
Wind Cave South Dakota 28,292
Wrangell-St. Elias Alaska 8,331,406
Yellowstone Idaho, Wyoming, Montana 2,219,822
Yosemite California 760,917
Zion Utah 146,546
Agate Fossil Beds Nebraska 3,055
Alibates Flint Quarries New Mexico, Texas 1,332
Aniakchak Alaska 136,955
Aztec Ruins New Mexico 27
Bandelier New Mexico 36,971
Black Canyon of the

Gunnison Colorado 13,672
Buck Reef Island Virgin Islands 880
Cabrilla California 143
Canyon de Chelly Arizona 83,840
Cape Krusenstern Alaska 636,685
Capulin Mountains New Mexico 775
Casa Grande Ruins Arizona 472
Cedar Breaks Utah 6,154
Chiricahua Arizona 11,088
Colorado Colorado 20,449
Congaree Swamp South Carolina 15,200
Craters of the Moon Idaho 53
Death Valley California, Nevada 2,067,627
Devils Postpile California 798
Devils Tower Wyoming 1,346
Dinosaur Colorado, Utah 211,060
Effigy Mounds Iowa 1,278
El Morrow New Mexico 5,998
Florissant Fossil Beds Colorado 8,198
Fossil Butte Wyoming 553
Gila Cliff Dwellings New Mexico 709
Grand Portage Minnesota
Great Sand Dunes Colorado 38,951
Hohokam Pima Arizona 1,690
Homestead National

Monument of America Nebraska 194
Hovenweep Colorado, Utah 785
Jewel Cave South Dakota 1,274
John Day Fossil Beds Oregon 14,100
Joshua Tree California 559,959
Lava Beds California 46,821
Lehman Caves Nevada 640
Montezuma Castle Arizona 849
Mound City Group Ohio 67
Muir Woods California 553
Natural Bridges Utah 46,821
Navajo Arizona 360
Ocmulgee Georgia 683
Oregon Caves Oregon 473
Organ Pipe Cactus Arizona 330,688
Pecos New Mexico 364
Pinnacles California 16,221
Pipe Spring Arizona 40
Pipestone Minnesota 281
Rainbow Bridge Utah 160
Russell Cave Alabama 310
Saguaro Arizona 83,576
Saint Croix Island Maine 35
Salinas New Mexico 1,079
Scotts Bluff Nebraska 2,987
Sunset Crater Arizona 3,040
Timpanogos Cave Utah 250
Tonto Arizona 1,120
Tuzigoot Arizona 848
Walnut Canyon Arizona 2,249
White Sands New Mexico 144,419
Wupatki Arizona 35,253


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National Park Numerical Fact Sheet

1. The national park system contains about 334 units.
2. The system covers a total of 89 million acres.
3. The units are divided into 25 categories.
4. The park system was established in 1872.
5. Since the 1960’s, the service has generally opted for preservation.
6. There are more than 1,200 national parks.
7. In 1918, the park service received an appropriation of $747,280.
8. In 1978, the park service received 552 million in appropriation.
9. Over $101 million is received from sources other than the government.
10. The Park system maintenance, wages and salary account for $224 million.
11. The park service has about 11,000 full-time employees.
12. The Antiquities Act of 1906 was established to protect national parks.
13. Monuments cover more than 40 million acres.
14. The Wilderness Act was passed in 1964 to protect unspoiled areas of national parks.
15. The Omnibus Park Bill was passed in 1978 designation 1,854,424 acres of wilderness to 8 units of the National Park system.
16. The Native Claim Settlement Act of 1971 awarded 40 million acres of land and one billion dollars as compensation for Alaskan groups.
17. There are 48 national parks that cover 47 million acres.
18. The 1916 Organic Act established the National Park Service to manage the Park system.
19. Yellowstone, established in 1872, was the first National Park.
20. The Fish and Wildlife Service was established in 1940.
21. The U.S. Forest Service was established in 1905.
22. The Bureau of Land Management was established in 1946.
23. The Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission Act was passed in 1958 to study needs on all federal land systems.
24. The Land and Water Conservation Fund Act was established in 1964 to provide funds for the planning, acquisition, and development of land and water areas and facilities.
25. The National Trails Act was passed in 1968 for public enjoyment and appreciation of open-air outdoor areas of the nation.
26. The National Wild and Service Rivers Act was passed in 1968 to preserve free-flowing streams for public use and enjoyment.
27. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 required public involvement and development of environmental impact statements of federal land management plans.
28. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act passed in 1980, designated certain public lands in Alaska to units of the public land system.
29. The park system has over 12,000 seasonal employees.
30. The beginning annual salary for a national park ranger with a college degree was $10,507 in 1979.
31. The annual operating budget for the park service in 1946 was five million dollars.


1. Selected students can memorize facts and compete as to who can answer the most questions.
2. Teacher should identify key items to launch a discussion. For example,
____(a) Explain why there was a need to establish to Forest Service and its responsibilities.
____(b) What are the advantages and disadvantages of seasonal employment.
____(c) What are the values in national monuments?
____(d) Compare the park service operating budget with New Haven’s annual budget.
3. Are there any apparent trends in park legislation?
4. Conduct research to determine data that is no longer current.

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National Park System Areas

NB National Battlefield
NBS National Battlefield Site
NBP National Battlefield Park
NHP National Historical Park
NHS National Historical Site
NL National Lakeshore
NM National Monument
NMEM National Memorial
NMP National Military Park
NP National Park
NPRES National Preserve
NR National River or Riverway
NRA National Recreation Area
NS National Seashore
NSR National Scenic River or Riverway
PKWY Parkway

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National Park Regions

Alaska Region Southeast Region
Pacific Northwest Region Mid-Atlantic Region
Western Region National Capital Region
Rocky Mountain Region North Atlantic Region
Southwest Region

Midwest Region








1. What makes a park ‘nationally’ significant?
2. Identify an example of each category of parks and explain the distinguishing characteristics.
3. Which park area is most popular with Americans?
4. Rank park areas in terms of significance.
5. What additional categories should be included in the national park system?
6. Are there major regional differences between the parks?


Parks Harbor Special Memories

All the parks, whatever their specific names, have a common denominator. They renew us in one way or another, re-create something deep within us. Let me illustrate in a small and personal way.

When I look from the North Platte Valley in western Nebraska at the massive promontory rising above it, Scotts Bluff National Monument, I do not see only the famous landmark of westering covered-wagon trains. I go back in memory to a small boy who was fortunate enough to spend a summer or two in its presence, exploring it when chores on the farm permitted.

Or take Fort Mason, the old Army post on San Francisco Bay, now headquarters of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Culture is big at the fort today, filling a big need. You can participate in art and theater, dance, concerts, seminars, discussions, workshops, classes in health, recreation, and physical education.

Fine. Fort Mason also happens to be the place where I—and a million other soldiers, no doubt, but I—disembarked to embrace America again after many months overseas in World War II.

The parks touch all of us, I say, in one way or another, which is why the Statue of Liberty is now preserved as a national monument, and Tuskegee Institute has become a national historic site. For some, the battlegrounds of Gettysburg and Vicksburg have intense personal meaning; grandchildren and great-grandchildren walk those haunting fields now, and wonder.

We all wonder, in the parks, and sometimes we grow closer to one another. (I am not referring to the exasperating traffic congestion). It happens when, assembled near Old Faithful in Yellowstone, we marvel at the faithful miracle. Grouped in dread fascination beneath El Capitan in Yosemite, we are linked more subtly.

El Captain’s sheer granite face rises 3,000 feet. Specks of humanity are toiling upward on it. You and I are secure, our feet anchored to earth, our view of the world level—normal. To us, the world of those climbers is frightfully askew; we are disturbed for them, and we stare.

“What if,” someone asks a ranger, “A climber freezes in fear and can’t continue?”

“A team of expert rock climbers rescues him. Sometimes a helicopter is called in, and we lift him off.”

“How often . . . ?”

“Not often. But sometimes we reach a climber in trouble and find that we have rescued him before.”

Climbers do fall, yes. Half a dozen have plunged to their deaths. There will be more. “As long as there are mountains,” the ranger said, “there will be climbers.”

Yosemite may be signaling the future of all parks afflicted with overcrowding and resultant pollution and litter. Its proposed master plan—a draft in which the public participated widely—aims at restoring the natural scene as much as possible. How? By controlling, which means limiting, visitor use.7

The above excerpt of “Will Success Spoil Our Parks” by Robert Paul Jordan raises many interesting issues. After reading the following passage and reviewing the vocabulary, discuss the following questions.

Vocabulary  Define the following terminology in the context of national parks and the author’s experience.
common denominator

massive promontory

historic site

national monument

dread fascination

afflicted with overcrowding

specks of humanity

Discussion questions

1. What is the common denomination that all parks possess?
2. What does the author mean in stating, “Culture is big at the fort today, filling a big need?”
3. Identify some of the ways that the park touches everyone.



At 7 a.m. last May 31, Dave Foreman lay sleeping in the bedroom of his suburban brick house on the outskirts of Tucson, Arizona. His wife, Nancy, who was already awake, was startled by a loud knocking at the door.

As she went to open it, four men barged past her. “FBI!” they shouted, racing toward the bedroom. “I heard a voice I didn’t know yelling my name,” Foreman recalls. “When I opened my eyes, I saw three guys standing around my bed pointing .357 Magnums at me. The first thing I thought of was Allen Funt and Candid Camera. Then they told me I was under arrest. They jerked off the sheet, and I was stark naked. I never felt so naked in my life,” he says, chuckling at the recollection.

The FBI wasn’t amused. The night before, 30 agents armed with semiautomatic weapons and waring night-vision goggles had arrested three of Foreman’s friends—fellow members of the radical environmental group Earth First!—as they allegedly blowtorched the legs off a Central Arizona Project power-line tower 200 miles away. Based on more than 1,000 hours of bugged conversations and a yearlong sting operation, the FBI claims Foreman bankrolled the operation, which was a dry run for the planned sabotage of electrical transmission towers at three Western nuclear power plants. “It was a shock, but in the back of my mind I wasn’t really surprised, “ says Foreman, 43. “The FBI never got the message that I retired from a leadership role in Earth First! a year ago. They wanted to make an example of me.”

Foreman’s trial on charges of conspiring to destroy government property—scheduled to begin Tuesday, April 10— has become a cause celebre in the environmental world. A self-described “ecowarrior,” Foreman has led a ragtag 15,000 member army in a decade-long war against what he calls “the destruction of the wild and the spread of urban cancer.” Foreman, who claims he was framed, is pleading innocent.8

Activities  The arrest and trial of Dave Foreman raises many issues relating to conservation and preservation, public property and individual rights. Read the following passage and adopt a position on the resolutions.
Resolved, when the environment is threatened, the destruction of government property is constitutionally defensible (affirmative).

Resolved individuals who destroy government property for any purpose should be punished (negative).

1. Two teams consisting of 2 students should prepare arguments and present speeches representing both the affirmative and negative resolutions.
2. Each argument should include 4 elements.
____a. Quote (to support argument)
____b. status quo (what happens if things remain as they are)
____c. Harms caused by the present condition
____d. Action (to correct the problem)
3. After researching the topic and writing the speech, teams should present their speech adhering to the following schedule.
____1. Affirmative (5 minutes)
____2. Cross-examination from negative side (5 minutes)
____3. Negative (5 minutes)
____4. Cross-examination from affirmative side (5 minutes)
____5. Rebuttal—Affirmative (5 minutes)
____6. Rebuttal—Negative (5 minutes)
4. Class will vote on the debate winners.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted in 1978 to set aside more than 100 million acres of federally owned lands and waters in Alaska as national parks, wild life refuges, forests, and wild and scenic rivers. Unfortunately the House bill encountered opposition, and stimulated considerable debate. Jay S. Hammond, the former Governor of Alaska and Cecil D. Andrus, former Secretary of the interior argue about who should control wild lands and for what purposes.

Jay S. Hammond, Governor of Alaska

Like the citizens of any state, Alaskans are both developers and environmentalists, with the majority in the middle between these poles. The majority agrees that Alaska should be given some say in deciding the state’s destiny. But Alaska’s voice has been drowned out in the contests over land disposition.

The common proponent of the developmental and environmental campaigns for Alaska lands has been the federal government. In both instances, Alaska and the American public have been ill served by poorly thought-out government solutions.

For example, the pipeline superheated Alaska’s economy. When it was completed, it fell to my administration to slow runaway inflation in a state that now has the nation’s highest cost of living and highest unemployment rate, the latter running up to 65 percent in some towns and villages. Now the federal government wants to withdraw a third of Alaska in a way that could cool our economy to the point where we could not afford to balance adequate resource protection with adequate resource development. This would be tragic for all interests.

Alaskans are not against providing the resources the nation needs or the greatest extent of protected acreage in the world. We know there are enough resources and land to do both. But we know it must be done properly.

The ecology and economics of Alaska are somewhat different from those in other places. To impose inappropriate economic and environmental standards is punitive to Alaska’s people, and, in the long run, to the national interest itself. Alaskans have been distraught over federal incursions.

Cecil Andrus, U.S. Secretary of interior

There are sincerely motivated critics who charge that the administration seeks to “lock up” Alaska’s mineral, timber, other economic potential. We respond by noting that the boundary lines for national monuments and our other proposals were drawn to exclude the overwhelming majority of those known resources. Under our plan, some two-thirds of Alaska’s land will remain open for multiple uses such as logging, mining, and oil and gas development under federal, state, Eskimo-Indian-Aleut, and private ownership.

Furthermore, lands now designated as wilderness can be opened for development in the future. But, with Alaska’s harsh climate and fragile soils, lands now clear-cut or stripmined or opened up with high-grade roads will never regain their pristine character.

The administration also seeks to conserve entire natural ecosystems and watersheds to avoid repetition of the kind of costly mistakes made for more than a century in the lower forty-eight. American taxpayers over the years have had to pay premium prices to buy back from private ownership lands that never should have left the public estate. A prime example is Redwood National Park in California. In Alaska we have a last chance to do it right the first time.

Alaska has been deeply involved in the unresolved national parkland debate. Since the U.S. Secretary of State, William H. Seward, purchased Alaska in 1867 from the Russians for 72 million dollars, the debate on what to do with it has been steeped in controversy. Since Alaska is so distant from mainland America and has a very harsh climate, many believed that these conditions protected it from the adverse effects of development and exploitation. However, with the discovery of valuable mineral resources, the government’s approval of the building of the Alaskan pipeline and all of its ramifications, Alaska’s insular position was no longer protected. Also, the federal management of resources, and unfulfilled promises of land and services, led to increased discussion and even dismay for many in recent years.

The 1971 Alaska Native claims Settlement Act was designed to provide for the final division of the land. New parklands were to be designated and Alaska was to become the only state whose land use was planned before development. As the two above positions reflect, the proposed boundaries for national parks and protected areas remained unsettled and open to different interpretations.9

The issue with Alaska and other similar lands is the status of important natural resources.

Activities  Vocabulary enrichment. In order to understand both sides of the debate, the following terminology must be defined in the context of national parks.
environmental economic potential
developer ecosystem
land disposition statutory, protection
resource protection national monuments
ecology public estate
federal incursions pristine

Discussion Questions

1. How does the Alaskan pipeline example support Jay S. Hammond’s allegations against the federal government?
2. Should Alaskans be given the responsibility in allocating publicly owned lands in their state?
3. What distinguishes Alaska’s ecology and economics from other states?
4. What is the federal government’s response to charges that they want to ‘lock-up’ Alaska’s resources?
5. Should the designated wilderness land be open to future development?
6. What were some of the costly mistakes made in the lower forty-eight states?
7. What is meant by “we have a last chance to do it right the first time”?
8. Who makes the strongest argument (Hammond or Andrus) and why?
9. What are several options to resolve the conflicting positions?
10. The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 divided the land between Eskimos, Indians, and Aleuts. The state received allocations, including new parklands and reserves.
____1. Procure a copy of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act
____2. Determine the specific allocations
____3. Calculate the percentage of the allocations that were to designated for national parks
____4. Compare original parks and monuments with new monument lands and additional protected areas.

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There are many ways to assess the effectiveness of this lesson. In the vocabulary sections, the ability of students to correctly spell, define and use the words in relevant sentences can determine if baseline vocabulary objectives have been met. However, if subtle nuances and deeper contextual understanding are the goals, then more rigid measurement criteria can be applied.

The map exercises require specific location, identification and placement of parks and regions. The mathematical elements emphasize basic computational skills, but can be enriched to include ratios and algebraic expressions.

Various strategies that measure cognitive operations, ranging from recall to synthesis, can be used, depending on the behavioral objective. The oral exercises should include provisions for monitoring delivery, tone, eye contact as well as the evidence to support or refute the position.

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The central purpose of this lesson is to enlarge on the concept of U.S. national parks to include international dimensions. There are many shared visions and common problems that concern national park efforts throughout the world. Most countries rank preservation of their limited natural resources and environmental consciousness at the top of their list of park priorities. Wealthier nations can afford to be more aggressive in their pursuance of worthwhile park goals because of generous budget allowances from the public outlay, highly trained manpower, an enthusiastic cadre of well-informed advocates, economic stability, and massive public support, are some of the important factors that facilitate the realization of park objectives. Some developing countries, despite economic and other constraints, are active participants, who are committed to the world community’s park ideals. The international community has banned together in many endeavors to highlight selected themes and projects. Earth Day, for instance, has received increasing worldwide support since its inception in 1970. The Earth Day exercise integrates U.S. issues with global concerns. The description of cooperative park efforts in the context of international forums reveal the official level of importance attached to common world themes. Further, a listing of United Nations and other international agencies and their responsibilities illustrates the commitment on the part of member nations to the establishment of organizational structures to formulate policy, set guidelines, and work towards solutions to issues of mutual concerns. Specific U.S. parks that are labeled in terms of their international significance, reinforces the notion that the U.S. is very much involved in global discourse and meaningful endeavors. After viewing the parks from a panoramic landscape, particular attention is focused on the African region and on Kenya, in particular. Map exercises allow for placing parks in regional perspectives and other geographical considerations. The reading and problem-solving exercises allow for a comparative analysis of both the differences and similarities of parks.

The objectives of lesson two are:

1. To raise the level of consciousness on environmental issues
2. To encourage active participation on environmental issues
3. To analyze park issues particular to Kenya
4. To identify parks in Africa
5. To understand international cooperation in park efforts
Currently there is an international movement to preserve, conserve, and protect national resources in different regions of the world. Specific areas of land, selected monuments, historical sites, and various forms of wildlife have been designated as in need of active intervention on the part of governments and private agencies. The first World Conference on National Parks was held in Seattle in 1962 and sixty-three nations were represented. The conference theme was that the conservation of nature was an international responsibility.

“The problem of conserving nature is not a local matter because nature does not respect political boundaries. The birds winging their way southward over Europe neither know, nor care. Whether they are passing above a common market or a group of feudal duchies.” Nature said “no heed” to such “political or social agreements particularly those that seek to divide the world into compartments. It has been and always will be—all inclusive.”10

The concern for the plight of wildlife, namely elephants, united members of the international community to cooperate in the economic sphere.

“Last October the 105 nations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) banned the shipment and sale of any elephant products. Despite fears that prohibition would cause prices to skyrocket, the opposite has happened. According to Jorgen Thomsen of Traffic, an international monitoring organization, ivory that was selling for $50 to $70 a kilogram in Somalia a year ago is now being dumped for $5 to $10. ‘They can’t unload it.’ 11

The movements stem from many forces, including the ecological, political, cultural, historical and so forth. Some movements have widespread mass appeal, while others appear to be supported by a few idealistic individuals. Further, some have been very successful since their inception and others are still battling for acceptance. Also, the strategies used in the movements (or lack there of) vary. In Kenya for instance, Dr. Leaky has employed unorthodox tactics, which include the killing of poachers, to curtail the senseless slaughter of the elephant population in Kenya’s public parks and reserves.

“Dr. Richard Leakey. In the 11 months since he took charge of Nairobi’s national parks, Leakey has created a small army to combat the slaughter of his country’s elephants. Kenya’s elephants population dropped from 165,000 to 16,000 in 20 years; on the continent the number plunged in the last decade from 1.3 million to 610,000.”12

In contrast, national parks in England, have usually enjoyed supportive legislation and have developed in a smooth and consistent manner.

The value in comparing national park efforts in the U.S. and abroad will undoubtedly enlarge the framework students have in processing information. Different countries have undertaken varied paths towards path development and the dynamics involved in their information allows students to study a broad spectrum of conditions and concepts, thus enriching the capacity to think critically.

Another benefit of comparative studies is that it can infuse values into the educational process. Perhaps the most important human value is the appreciation of mankind. Because we live in a pluralistic world environment, citizens are required to understand and communicate with its members from a position of knowledge and sensitivity. The ability for dialogue and enlightenment emerges in part from the understanding of values (our own and others). The way in which values are demonstrated through actions, procedures, policies and attitudes on both individuals and group levels, reveal much about the society and its outlook on life.

National Parks is one avenue in which students can develop, clarify, and study values. Values include ethics, conduct codes, distinguishing between right and wrong, determining appropriate choices, attitudes and weighing the consequences of actions. The Task Force on values in Baltimore Country Public Schools formulated a common core of values that they try to incorporate in their curriculum. They are:

“Compassion, courtesy, critical inquiry, due process, equality of opportunity, freedom of thought and action, honesty, human worth and dignity, integrity, justice, knowledge, loyalty, objectivity, order, patriotism, rational, consent, reasoned argument, respect for others rights, responsible citizenship, rule of law, self-respect, tolerance, and truth.”13

There are many other important values that need to be embraced by students that will aid in the goal of moral and academic development. With respect to national parks, inherent values include; respect for plant and animal life, natural phenomenon, conservation, and aesthetics.

The world at large, and our community in particular have become almost frightening places to live in. The spectre of drugs, abuse, violent, crime, dissolution of the family, and poverty often appear to threaten the fibre of civilized societies. At times, one is almost overwhelmed by the problems that attempt to undermine the orderly development of communities. Also, the disregard for the environment, as evidenced by the construction of structures that distract and deface their surroundings destroy and upset ecological balances. Thus, in this everchanging world, replete with its share of negative infractions, a value that becomes acutely important is a safe and peaceful setting, free from crime, pollution exploitation, and the overall turmoil that characterizes modern living. In 1916, Joseph Grinnell and Tracy Stores, two vertebrate zoologists wrote a moving perception of a national park.

“A national park is at its inception entirely natural and is generally thereafter kept immune from human interference.”14

John Muir, the naturalist and writer wrote,

“Thousands of tired nerve-shaken, overcivilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home, that wildness is a necessity, and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”15

In addition to the natural sense stimulation that a park generates, the recreational provisions most parks have offer are quite varied and appeal to the different interests and lifestyles of its patrons. The U.S. National Park Guide lists the special features of each park. The amenities include hiking, camping, boating, swimming, etc.

There is a heightened level of consciousness among citizens of the world about the worth and quality of plant and animal life. The campaigns to stop the annihilation of elephants to fuel the international ivory trade, the exploitation of small animals for the fur industry, the reluctance to destroy the rain forests, are all manifestations of the appreciation for the value of life and its many forms. The Second World Conference on National Parks was represented by more than eighty nations, as opposed to sixty-three in 1962, and lobbied for the establishment of ‘world parks,’ to be administered under the auspices of the United Nations.

“Delegates to the conference frequently stressed the importance of protecting the most productive ecosystems on the planet, especially tropical rain forests rich in countless species of plant, insect, and wild animal life.”16

The world community is generally supportive of the establishment and maintenance of national parks. However, there are several factors that have militated against park development. It is evident when reading through the recommendations made at international forums that the strong intellectual underpinnings are eclipsed by practical implications. Politics and economics are two issues that have repeatedly emerged in park discussions. Also, in parts of Africa, conservation efforts, both historically and contemporaneously have been influenced by tourism.

“African governments had also recognized the advantages of attracting wealthy foreign tourists into the reserves. Efforts to protect wildlife for its own sake, especially wildlife whose dependence on remoteness from civilization meant that the animals might never be seen by tourists, was the last thing government officials endorsed. If ever the flow of tourist dollars were to interrupted for extended periods, it followed that the parks themselves might just as easily be sacrificed, either intentionally or simply through neglect.”17

Despite development realities, many countries are actively exerting effort and resources to save natural settings by park designations. Kenya’s National Parks receive widespread support. Thousands of acres have been set aside in the forested mountains, wild deserts, bushlands, marshlands, and in marine areas, to protect the wild inhabitants and unique character of the country. Realizing that tourism depends largely on the visitors desire to experience the ‘wild’, Kenya attempts to balance preservation, tourism, and the legitimate needs of its citizens to survive off of the land. The relationship at times appears tenuous, but the commitment to find a viable solution, appears to have been relatively successful.

The Earth Has Its Day

People are more concerned than ever about environmental problems that threaten their neighborhoods and their world problems such as toxic waste dumps, growing mountains of garbage, shrinking tropical rain forests, and depleted levels of ozone in the atmosphere organizers of 1990’s Earth Day hope to raise awareness of these and other dangers, and to channel growing anger into activities and movements that make a real difference.

Internationally, some 100 million people are expected to participate in this year’s Earth Day activities. According to Denis Hayes, who helped organize the first Earth Day and is chairman and is CEO of Earth Day 1990 (a Stanford, CA-based organization that is coordinating activities). Earth Day is designed to operate on two levels: “First, it is raising a citizen’s army so large, diverse, and committed that it will be an irresistible political force for environmental change; he wrote recently. “Second, it is encouraging hundreds of millions of individuals to look deeply at their own lives and ask whether their values, habits, and attitudes are compatible with the sustainable future we need to build.”

Activities include tree-planting in Kenya, a massive clean-up of the Vistula River and Baltic Sea in Poland, an pollution test in Italy.

The United States Earth Day Committees and individuals have coordinated activities in all spheres and sectors of the communities. Activities range from letter writing campaigns to the declaration of styrofoam-free zones.

Even though many Americans are involved in Earth Day activities the following data, acquired by the Gallup Organization is thought provoking. After reviewing the information, answer the questions

N = 600

73% said they had no plans to participate in any Earth Day observances
13% said the day would play major role in solving environmental problems
39% said day would have some sort of lesser impact
73% said that Earth Day was more of a public relations campaign than a serious venture in making the world a safer and cleaner place
82% are voluntarily recycling newspapers, glass, aluminum
46% contributed money to environmental protection agencies
39% are car pooling or taking public transportation
75% willing to shell out extra cash for products and services
made more expensive by costly government environmental requirements.18

Questions and Activities

1. Why do you think the people of the world are interested in environmental issues?
2. If you were chairman of Earth Day Activities for the world, what system would you use to assign Earth Day Activities to individual countries?
3. List specific activities that your school can get involved in to improve the school.
4. What environmental and ecological problems are most acute in your neighborhood?
5. What is the relationship between the environment and national parks?
6. Why do you think many American felt that Earth Day would not play a major role in solving environmental issues?
7. Why do you think the percentage of car pooling (39%) is so much lower than recycling (82%)?
8. Do you think the international community should continue to celebrate earth day? Why?
9. Select one aspect of the environmental or ecology movement to research. Define the problem, trace the background, and suggest ways to ameliorate the problem.
10. Compose a slogan, rap, or song on an ecology or environmental theme.
11. Illustrate an environmental theme through a drawing or painting.

Park With Worldwide Significance

Many U.S. National Parks have been specially recognized for their worldwide significance. Some designated as World Heritage. Sites by an international commission of the United Nations, are outstanding works of man or natural wonders that have universal value. Several, designated as man and the biosphere reserves by another United Nations group, preserve examples of the world’s major ecosystems for scientific and educational purposes and play an important role in maintaining the earth’s diversity of life.

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Denali National Parks and Reserve (AK)

Gates of the Arctic National Park (AK)

Glacier Bay National Park (AK)

Noatak National Preserve (AK)

Grand Canyon National Park (AZ)

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (AZ)

Channell Islands National Park (CA)

Death Valley National Monument (CA)

Joshua Tree National Monument (CA)

Kings Canyon National Park (CA)

Redwood National Park (CA)

Sequoia National Park (CA)

Yosemite National Park (CA)

Mesa Verde National Park (CA)

Rocky Mountain National Park (CA)

Everglades National Park (FL)

Cumberland Island National Seashore (GA)

Haleakala National Park (HI)

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (HI)

Mammoth Care National Park (KY)

Isle Royle National Park (MI)

Glacier National Park (MT)

Statue of Liberty National Monument (NY)

Cape Lookout National Seashore (NC)

Independence National Historical Park (PA)

San Juan National Historic Site (PR)

Congaree Swamp National Monument (SC)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (TN)

Big Bend National Park (TX)

Big Thicket National Preserve (TX)

Virgin Islands National Park (VI)

Olympic National Park (WA)

Yellowstone National Park (WY)


1. How many parks are specifically designated as having international significance and in what states are the parks located in?
2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of internationally designated parks?
3. Select one of the international parks to research. Collect data on size, features, location, amenities, history, and other information that describes why the park has ‘special’ status.

Redwood, Everglade, Great Smoky Mountains, Olympic and Yellowstone are U.S. National Parks that have both natural wonders and are of scientific importance. Read the following descriptive passages in order to gain insight to their special international status.


“The preservation of wilderness of forests, geysers, mountains . . . and the game common to that region in as nearly the condition of those who shall come after us something of the original ‘wild west’ that shall stand while the rest of the world moves, affording the student of nature and the pleasure tourist a restful contrast to . . busy and progressive scenes”

Lucius Q. C. Kamar, Secretary of Interior 1886


“What an exceedingly interesting educational exhibit this entire area would be if by absolute protection these birds would multiply and the now rare species come back into the picture for the enjoyment of future generations.”

U.S. Park Director Horace Albright 1932


“The importance of protecting not only the particular scenic-scientific park features, in this case the unsurpassed stands of coast redwoods, but of bringing under some degree of control the surrounding, ecologically-related lands”

Russell D. Butcher, Environmentalist 1964

Great Smoky Mountain

“They are first in beauty of woods, in thrilling fairyland glens, and in the warmth of Mother Nature’s Welcome. The greatest portion of the lands involved in these two park projects are wilderness areas, and in the Smoky Mountains are found the greatest outstanding peaks east of the Rocky Mountains.”

Park Commissioner William C. Gregg 1925


1. Identify the unique characteristic of each national park.
2. What common features are apparent in all parks?
3. From the above descriptions on parks with international designation, which one do you think has the most to offer and why?
4. The passages are written by individuals who view parks from different perspectives. What impact does the individual’s position have on their interpretation of the park?
5. Select a Kenyan Park to research. After collecting data, write a detailed description on the park and explain why it is of international significance.
6. Design a brochure about one of the national parks listed above. Include a description of the park, artistic representation, map, available activities, and its international appeal.
7. What is the significance of park names?
(figure available in print form)

G.C.A. Game Conservation Area
G.R. Game Reserve
M.N.P. Marine National Park
M.N.R. Marine National Reserve
N.P. National Park
N.R. National Reserve

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Kenya’s National Parks

Use the map of Kenya to answer the following questions

1. How many national parks are in Kenya?
2. Name two national parks in Kenya and list their abbreviations.
3. What kind of park is Isiolo Buffalo Springs?
4. By using the scale, about how far apart is Nairobi National Park from Kidepo National Park?
5. In what section of Kenya are most of the national parks located?
6. Ololkisalie National Park is near what famous lake in Kenya?
7. Lake Bogal runs through what National Reserve?
8. If you start at Kitengela, and hike 50 miles a day, about how many days would it take you to get to Lake Nakuru National Park?
9. Malindi Marine National Reserve is on the coast of what ocean?
10. Name four cities that surround Lambwe Valley Game Reserve?
11. Kidepo National Park is next to what African country?
12. What kind of transportation would you use to Shimba Hills National Park?
13. Four national parks are located together. One of these parks is Watamu M.N.R. What are the other three?


Wildlife in national parks throughout the world are faced with serious threats to their existence. Review the reasons why wildlife in danger and explain how each item negatively impacts on both animal and plant wildlife and on the environment. Also, specifically examine the problems in Kenya and compare how the problem effects U.S. parks.

1. Changing physical conditions
2. Increasing human population
3. Pollution
4. Limited financial support
5. Untrained personnel
6. Pressure for immediate economic and agricultural development
7. Organized poaching
8. Inadequate education
9. Lack of understanding of the value of wildlife and national parks
10. Trampling
11. Overuse
12. Inadequate means of control
13. Politics
14. Status killing

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Experiences, Encounters, and Activities Parks Provide

Historically, tourism has been an integral part of national parks. While there weren’t nearly as many visitors to the parks as there are today, they engaged in many of the same types of activities, albeit on a smaller and less modern scale. Vacations, then and now, are centered around park adventures, which include all that the “wilderness” has to offer. Mountain-climbing, backpacking, fishing, hunting, and often just walking in a natural setting, are some of the most common park activities. Today’s tourists have more encounters with modernity in park areas since technology reaches virtually all aspects of our lives. Many parks have facilities and services such as restaurants, speciality shops, entertainment, car and boat rentals, hotels and other conveniences that tend to blur the boundary between park (natural) and modern (man-influenced) experiences. Further, the reverberations of commercialism includes litter, congestion, technological dependency, and other conditions that can have a negative impact on the park experience and the environment. The inevitability of conflict emerges when the two realms of ideologies collide. The principles and policies of national parks have been a source of contention, especially between the proponents of preservation and the advocates of tourism. There is often considerable controversy over the issue of hunting and its effects on both the environment and the park experience. The aims of this lesson are to explore the park by using field-based strategies and to sensitive visitors to the ‘meaningfulness’ of park experiences. Primary sources are used to give the reader a feel for the park setting. Juliette Huxley’s chronicle of wildlife in a Kenyan national park gives the reader insight into the uniqueness of big game life, which unfortunately is no longer abundant in most U.S. parks. Poetry, further sensitizes the learner to the animal conditions. An excursion to a park is the basis for the developmental exercises.

The objectives of lesson three are:

1. To prepare for an excursion to a park
2. To observe the inherent conflicts in nature
3. To identify features of a park
4. To acquire positive values from park experiences
5. To be inspired to actively participate in park related activities
6. To increase reading capacity on national parks.
Tourism and recreation are very important aspects of national parks in the U.S. and abroad. Park administrations are very sensitive to the diverse needs of visitors and provide extensive services and activities to accommodate the varying expectations and experiences. There are sites, activities, and provisions that each individual park offers. To this end, the U.S. national park service publishes a guide that lists every U.S. park and its amenities.

In Kenya public agencies and private clubs advertise about the virtues of their national parks in order to attract foreign visitors. The following excerpt from a Newsweek advertisement describes a Kenyan park’s assets.

“Photographic safaris and mountain-climbing excursions are readily mounted from the club. Many visitors opt for land-cruiser drives to higher elevations where scenic canyons, bamboo forests and tempting trout streams abound, along with a broad variety of faund and flord—all within the protected and of Mt. Kenya national park.”19

Recreation, according to the U.S. National Park Policy Statement: The Meaning of National Parks Today, are a part of the national ethos.

1. The parks are places where recreation reflects the aspirations of a free and independent people.
2. The parks are an object lesson for a world of limited resources.
3. The parks are great laboraties of successful natural communities.
4. The parks are living memorials of human history on the American continent.20
Further, under the description of recreation in the policy statement, an explanation of the unique options that parks provide is detailed.

“They are places where no one else prepares entertainment for the visitor, predetermines his responses, or tells him what to do. In a national park the visitor is on his own, setting an agenda for himself, discovering what is interesting, going at his own pace. The parks provide a contrast to the familiar situation in which we are bored unless someone tells us how to fill out time.” 21

Even though recreation was not a driving force at the inception of the national park movement in the U.S. the recreational role has increased over time for various reasons. Chief among them is that recreational activities refresh and rejuvenate both the mind and body. The values that reflective recreation can stimulate can have a positive impact on the individual and society. The preservationist Aldo Leopold observed that “ . . . there are cultural values in the sports, customs and experiences that renew contacts with wild things.” Ortega describes the power and value in hunting.

“For hunting is not simply casting blows right and left in order to kill animals or to catch them. The hunt is a series of technical operations, and for an activity to become technical it has to matter that it works in one particular way and not in another . . . It involves a complete set of ethics of the most distinguished design.”22

The recreational needs of urban dwellers, whether from poverty stricken urban centers or affluent suburbs has featured in the planning and development of the urban park concept. It was felt that the virtues of nature and all that it represented should be accessible to a greater number of people, especially those who lived in the metropolitan areas. Gateway National Recreation Area was designed to allow the people to experience a park in close proximity to their communities.

“To forge an effective link between the urban values systems that characterize communities in New York and New Jersey and the natural systems of Gateway . . . to dramatize for the public the gains which can accrue if swimming and shellfishing are enlarged.”23

The educational opportunities which a national park offers are varied. Learning, whether acquired from informal excursions or structured classroom laboratories will occur. There are so many lessons to be learned in park environs. The study of specific disciplines such as art, science, poetry, for instance, can be greatly enrich in the context of a park. What better way to study the symbiontic and conflicting ecological relationships than in their natural settings. Also, the aesthetic experiences of peace and tranquility can assist in placing life and its many facets in perspective.

Perhaps the ultimate value is life itself, and the study of national parks affords an excellent opportunity to observe, study, appreciate and preserve life. The commitment to the appreciation of animal and plant life was underscored in the establishment of Everglade National Park in 1934.

“For the first time a major national park would lack great waterfalls, preservationists accepted the protection of its native plants and animals alone as justification for Everglades National Parks.”24

The quality of human life can be enhanced by an appreciation of other life forms. To value the “richness” and power of life’s full compliments helps gives meaning to man’s existence.

Ecology, conservation, preservation, and environmentalism emerge from any serious discussion of national parks. In fact, not far from the surface of the rationale and debate for the creation of parks, is the notion that the land or space has some redeeming value that is worthy of sustaining. Even in the ‘worthless’ land position, that held that there was very little economic potential in the lands in question, thus they were worthless, one still observes that worthlessness did not mean valueless. John Conness argued cogently in the 1864 congressional debates on the Yosemite bill that there indeed was value in ‘so-called’ worthless land.

“ . . . This bill proposes to make a grant of certain premises located in the Sierra Nevada mountains, in the state of California, that are for all public purposes worthless, but which constitute, perhaps, some of the greatest wonders of the world”25

The concept of wilderness is associated with most parks. America’s wilderness heritage represents those areas that have been designated as wilderness such as Monomoy in Massachusetts, proposed wilderness, preserved wilderness as is the case of Allagash River in Maine, wilderness to be which is the classification of the glaciers in Olympic National Park, and wilderness battleground as reflected in areas that are claimed by ranchers, timbermen, tourists, and lovers of wilderness. Much of America’s wilderness has vanished and it is imperative that both the public and private sectors undertake efforts to preserve and maintain the remaining areas.

Webster defines wilderness as, “an uncultivated, uninhabited region.” To ensure that such areas remain as part of the permanent American landscape. Congress passed the Wilderness Act in 1964. According to Congress, wilderness is “where the earth and its community of life are untrampled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. Standards of surveying and protecting the surviving pockets of an undeveloped America.”

Aldo Leopold in his essay “Wild life in American Culture,” made the following observation about the values that can be derived from the wilderness experience.

“Suffice it to say that by common consent of thinking people, there are cultural values in the sports, customs and experiences that renew contacts with wild things . . . for example, a boy scout has tanned a coon skin cap, and goes Daniel-Booning in the willow thicket bellow the tracks. He is reenacting American history . . . Again a farmer boy arrives in the school room reeking of muskrat; he has tended his traps before breakfast. He is reenacting the romance of the fur trade” 26

Even though Connecticut does not yet have a national park with an abundance of wildlife, a student can still experience the feeling of wilderness in the state parks and in areas throughout Connecticut. The following description of the Connecticut Scenery.

“The lower reaches of the river are nearly as wild as the upper. Here its marshlands and salt flats hold the soup of life, where unnumbered species spawn and feed. Here, event at the height of day, when the 20th century American elsewhere hears the clangor of his changing country, there is no louder sound than bird song or the wind. These were the harmonies heard by the first humans to know Connecticut, and the Indians matched the poetry of nature when they called the river “The smile of God” 27


1. What specific observations led the Indians to name the Connecticut River, “The Smile of God”?
2. What is meant by these metaphoric expressions?
____“Soup of Life”
____“Clangor of his Changing Country”
____“Harmonies heard by the first humans?”
Julliette Huxley visited many national parks in Africa. Below are excerpts from her experiences in one of Kenya’s National Parks, Amboseli. Her book entitled, Wild Lives of Africa allows the reader to vividly experience the parks in Africa.

A part of Amboseli has been touched by an Act of God: in 1958, after some tremors of Kilimanjaro, but with no other warning and no apparent reason, a spring of clear water rose out of the parched desert, and spilled itself upon the surprised soil. There was enough to overflow into a dry ravine, to fill its wide shallows and still to ripple on, to the delight of man and beast. We saw it that afternoon, with all its green rejoicings, its tall reeds and lush grasses. It had been adopted at once by small migrant birds and a multitude of waterbirds and waders and looked indeed as if it had been there for ever; so did that huge elephant, just across the running water.

There are many rhinos at Amboseli, for they flourish in its arid expanse varied with swamp and thorny bush. One is likely to meet them, single or in pairs, in odd places of the reserve. The males outline their territory with a trail of urine, and the females promenade their young actively, I imagine in order to educate them. Knowing themselves protected and safe in the Park, they have even grown accustomed to the public. Some, like Gladys and Gertie, became famous for their tolerance and their magnificent horns—until they fought a royal battle and Gertie’s was snapped off its pedestal. The rangers picked it up later, and showed it to us: it was thirty-nine inches long, compacted of bristly hairs with a subtle upward tilt at the end of its almost horizontal thrust. When we saw her, Gertie had begun to grow a new horn looking like an up-turned comma, as well as producing a son curiously born without external ears. We heard lately that poachers had killed her for that bit of horn.

Looking back on our voyage through all these varied and wonderful Parks and Wild Life Reserves, I see it as a pilgrimage to a former aspect of our world. It took us back a million years to a surviving pleistocene community, once the dominant climax of life before man—the splendid product of that miraculous process of existing and becoming, in and by which we live to-day.

It was an interdependent community organized to make the fullest use of its assets, balancing the risks with uncanny precision, fitting each species of plant and animal into its appropriate niche: all their separate patterns of behaviour directed towards common survival. And if, inevitably, individuals perished, the species and the communities to which they belonged continued to thrive and to survive.

Modern man, evolving slowly out of this stream of life, carries evolution’s most precious (and dangerous) gift of all: the gift of flexibility and invention. Emerging within this wild economy of nature, at first terrified by its forces and dangers, he soon learnt how to use his cunning and intelligence to master it, and too often, to destroy it. Looking at the magnificent wild creatures of Africa, I realised how easily these iron-clads, these pachyderms and these carnivores had become the victims of man the tool-maker.


A. Vocabulary
1. expanse 6. pilgrimage 11. niche
2. promenade 7. pleistocene 12. pachyderms
3. pedestal 8. climax
4. subtle 9. interdependent
5. external 10. uncanny
B. Questions on Juliette Huxley in Africa
____1. Why do rhinos flourish in Amboseli National Park?
____2. Why do you think national parks have on animals?
____3. What influence do you think national parks have on animals?
____4. How was the community interdependent?
____5. How are flexibility and invention dangerous to the park’s environment?
____6. In what ways are rhinos similar to human beings?
____7. How are the poachers killing off the rhinos population?
____8. How do you think Ms. Huxley felt when she returned to the national parks?
____9. Why is man undermining the wildlife in Africa?
____10. If the animals are destroyed, what will happen to the ecosystem?
____11. Why is man revolving around the term “invention”?
____12. What can the world community do to protect Africa’s wildlife?
The poems below communicate many of the thoughts on animals. Read each poem and reflect on the poets interpretations on hunting and animals.

I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contained;
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition;
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins;
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God;
Not one is dissatisfied—not one is demented with the mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago;
Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth.
____________Walt Whitman

From Meeting
Over the grass a hedgehog came
Questing the air for scents of food
And the cracked twig of danger.
He shuffled near in the gloom. Then stopped.
He was aware of me. I went up,
Bent low to look at him, and saw
His coat of lances pointing to my hand.
What could I do
To show I was no enemy?
I turned him over, inspected his small clenched paws,
His eyes expressionless as glass,
And did not know how I could speak,
By tongue or touch the language of a friend.
____________Clifford Dyment
Hunters, hunters
Follow the Chase.
I saw the Fox’s eyes,
Not in his face
But on it, big with fright -
Haste, hunters, hasted!
Say, hunters, say
Is it a noble sport?
As rats that bite
Babies in cradles, so,
Such rats and men
Take their delight.
____________W. H. Davies

Poets Reflections

Walt Whitman “Animals”

1. Why do you think animals are described as placid and self-contained?
2. What can be learned from prolonged observations of animals?
3. How can “man” be certain that animals do not complain about their condition?
4. Do you think that animals have possessive traits like man?
5. What do you think Whitman means in saying that animals are not respectable or industrious?

Clifford Dyment “From Meeting”

1. Why is a cracked twig associated with danger?
2. Do animals have a better sensory perception than man?
3. How can man demonstrate friendship towards animals?

W. H. Davies “Sport”

1. What is the relationship between rats and men?
2. Why is both man and animals the predator?
3. Is hunting a noble sport?

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I. Background
____A. Write the U.S. State Park, or Tourist Board for information about the park that you plan to visit.
____B. Visit a travel agent and get information about the park such as brochures, services, times, and facilities.
____C. Research the park in the school and local library. Write a short summary about the park.
____D. Determine the central purpose and duration of the trip. Write a brief statement of purpose.
____E. Decide on the specific area to study.
____Write specific objectives.
Explain how you plan to gather data.
II. Preparation
____A. Determine what supplies and materials that need to be packed.
____B. Determine the average climate and the daily weather conditions
____C. Dress appropriately.
III. Trip
____A. Review appropriate behavior en route and during the trip.
____B. Record detailed experiences in notebooks.
____C. Assess the trip to determine success.
IV. Evaluation
____A. Share your experiences with class.
____B. Suggestions for next park experience.

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1. Runte, Alfred. National Parks: The American Experience. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1979, p. 11.
2. Ibid., 17.
3. Sax, Joseph L. Mountains Without Handrails: Reflections on the National Parks. Ann Arbor. University of Michigan, 1980, p. 8.
4. Runte, op. cit., 12.
5. Runte, op. cit., 12.
6. Sax, Joseph L., op. cit., 29.
7. Jordan, Robert Paul, “Will Success Spoil Our Parks,” National Geographical Vol. 156, No. 1, July 1979, p. 49.
8. People Weekly, April 16, 1990, p. 113.
9. Hammond, Jay S. and Cecil Andrus, “Sharing Alaska—How Much For Parks?” National Geographic, Vol. 156, No. 1, July 1979, pp. 60-65.
10. Runte, op. cit., p. 183.
11. Newsweek, April 16, 1990, p. 42.
12. Ibid., p. 42.
13. Baltimore County Board of Education, 1976 (mimeo).
14. Runte, op. cit., p. 107.
15. Ibid., 82.
16. Ibid., 186.
17. Ibid., 186.
18. Newsweek, April 16, 1990, p. 6.
19. Ibid., (advertisement).
20. Sax, Joseph L., op. cit., p. 111-113.
21. Ibid., 112.
22. Sax, Joseph L., op. cit., p. 32.
23. Sax, op. cit., p. 85.
24. Runte, op. cit., p. 48.
25. Allan C. Fisher, Jr. and Bruce Dale, “Kenya Says Harambe,” National Geographic, Vol. 135, No. 2, February 1969, p. 151.
26. Sax, Joseph L., op. cit., p. 17, “Suffice it to say that . . . .”
27. McCarry, Charles and David Arnold, “Yesterday Lingers Along the Connecticut” National Geographic, Vol. 142, No. 3, Sept. 1972, p. 338.

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Darst, Paul and G. P. Armstrong. Outdoor Adventure Activities for School and Recreation Programs. Minneapolis: Burgess Publishing, 1980.

Flueglman, Andrew. More New Games. San Francisco: New Games Press, 1976.

Malin, James C. History and Ecology: Studies of the Grassland. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.

Runte, Alfred. National Parks: The American Experience. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1979.

Sax, Joseph. Mountains Without Handrails: Reflections on National Parks. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1980.

Schroeder, H. M. and R. E. Lee. Effects of Outward Bound Training on Urban Youth. Princeton University, 1977.

Zaslowsky, Dyan. These American Lands. New York: Henry Holt, 1986.

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“Our National Parks.” National Geographic, Vol. 156, No. 1, July 1979.

“Yellowstone.” National Geographic, Vol. 154, No. 6, pp. 829-857, 1978.

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Student Readings

Fletcher, Colin. The Man Who Walked Through Time. New York: Random House, 1967. (Hiking in the Grand Canyon)

Huxley, Juliette. Wild Lives of Africa. New York: Harper and Row, 1963. (Personal experience in Africa’s game parks)

Weinstein, M. and J. Goodman. Play Fair. Impact Publishers, San Louis Obispo, CA. 1980. (Outdoor Activities)

Wolfe, Linnie Marsh. Son of the Wilderness. The Life of John Muir. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945. (biography)

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