In just three short years, the National Park Service will celebrate its 100th birthday. In anticipation, on Aug.25 of last year, the agency released a report prepared by a special advisory committee on the role of science in the parks. That report called for more support of science, more scientists on park staffs and a scientific oversight committee. We have nothing against science, but these recommendations miss an essential point. Not even science can save national parks if we neglect and lose their fundamental asset, which is open space. Up to now, America’s sheer size and stunning scenery made it relatively easy for us to create spacious parks. The founding fathers challenged Europe’s treasured art and architecture by touting the unrivaled natural beauty of North America. In that spirit, America’s first national parks --Yosemite and Yellowstone -- were established as “monuments to a living antiquity.” Later, when other values
Our national parks need room to breathe
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