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Don't forget an "old curmudegon's' opinion

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Dear HCN,

Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes, 1933-1946, made a powerful public statement in 1935 supporting wilderness at a conference of state park authorities. Given the public mood, I believe it is time to hear from the old curmudgeon once again:

"I am not in favor of building any more roads in the national parks than we have to build. I am not in favor of doing anything along the lines of so-called improvements that we do not have to do.

"This is an automobile age, but I do not have much patience with people whose idea of enjoying nature is dashing along a hard road at 50 or 60 miles an hour. I am not willing that our beautiful areas ought to be opened up to people who are either too old to walk, as I am, or too lazy to walk, as a great many young people are who ought to be ashamed of themselves. I do not happen to favor the scarring of a wonderful mountainside just so we can say we have a skyline drive.

"I think we ought to keep as much wilderness in this country as we can. It is easy to destroy a wilderness; it can be done very quickly, but it takes nature a long time, even if we let nature alone, to restore for our children what we have ruthlessly destroyed ...

"We ought to resolve all doubts in favor of letting nature take its course. In a field where nature is preeminently the master artist, where nature can do much more than we can do with all our cleverness, with all our arts and with all our best efforts, we cannot improve but only impair if we undertake to alter."

Michael F. Turek

Toppenish, Washington

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