Vanity Fair on the National Parks

It has taken me FOREVER to get to this post. I read the article a while back and have been meaning to write about it ever since. First a personal blurb: my first real job in the big, bad, plastic world (after working as a ski photographer in Tahoe and a junior rafting guide in Colorado) was with the Department of the Interior in Washington DC. Don’t ask me how I ended up there. It a rather long, convoluted tale filled with romantic notions of helping the world and crushed ideals about how one can do this inside a government agency. No matter. The point of al this is that within the Interior Department lies what is probably the best agency in the federal government: The National Park Service. The NPS takes care of all of our nations great parks, from Yosemite to the Smokies, as well as gobfulls of various monuments, recreation areas, etc. In general, they do a fine job. If you’ve ever spent time in a National Park, you know that the rangers are a dedicated bunch and the care given to interpretation and preservation is, in general, worthy of high praise. But there are problems, and the park service has typically had some difficulties with funding and upkeep, especially <slight reveal of political slant> during Republican administrations </slight reveal of political slant>.

One of the big debates this time around is whether to allow certain motorized vehicles like ATVs and snowmobiles into the parks. traditionally, most parks have been off-limits to these folks. For good reason, IMHO. They are noisy, pollution causing and, if I may throw in yet another potentially incendiary over-generalization, demographically unpleasing. I’ll not expand on that remark, but suffice it to say the parks are probably better off without motorized vehicles roaming around them.

According to this nicely done article from Vanity Fair a while back, it seems lots of people agree with me. Sadly, among them is NOT the head of the Park Service, Paul Hoffman. The article pays out the issues involved and some of the passionate characters who are fighting behind he scenes to keep the parks motor-free. Check it out and weigh in, should you feel compelled.