Commentary

Strip malls, amusement parks and gated communities for the rich: America without its national parks

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Image: National Park Service

Today is the 100th anniversary of a truly great American public institution — the National Park Service. To commemorate the anniversary, the NPS itself is promoting a host of events on this dedicated website.

Other groups and media outlets are also weighing in as well. This story from USA Today, which features a great three minute video with filmmaker Ken Burns does an especially good job of explaining the importance of the parks.

Here’s Burns:

“What is there were no national parks? Yosemite and Zion would be gated communities that only the rich…all the property along the Grand Canyon’s rim would be owned by the wealthy and the Everglades would have long ago been drained and would be an endless series of developments and strip malls and golf courses. Yellowstone would be called “Geyser World.” It would be a down on its luck amusement park. I mean, that is what we be without the national parks.”

Burns’ musings are not fanciful. The forces that resisted the creation of the parks and that continually seek to expand private development and exploitation within them to this day, remain devoted to the supposed infallibility of the “free market” and resistant to the idea of public ownership as somehow “socialistic.” In other words, while today marks an important day worth celebrating, it is also a day on which al Americans should recommit themselves to preserving and expanding this precious heritage.

Click here for a list of National Park Service sites in North Carolina.

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