Saturday, December 24, 2005

Edward Abbey on National Parks

Abbey did quite a bit of good for people environmentally in his book Desert Solitaire, and radical, destructive, and vandalistic in The Monkey Wrench Gang. On the National Parks issue though, I couldn't agree with him more. First roads for cars. Now snowmobiles. What next? An airport?

(Added later)

My whole point being is when is enough? The purpose of National Parks to my understanding was to appreciate them for what they are and not as a place that accomodates every groups interest. I don't mean to sound utopian, but that is my concern even if it means being such.

What Nat'l Parks say to me is this is an area of land we people have designated as something special, even more monumental than other landscapes in America. These are the one areas that humanity isn't above nature, but nature above humanity. These are areas that will be left in their natural state. Why? Because every other known area of land on the American landscape is open to some type of human footprint being left. You as citizens should feel fortunate and blessed paved roads are allowed so we can visit and appreciate them with modern conveniences like the automobile. Now snowmobiles? See that all the time in my geograph. How about skiing? I can get that in Aspen. What the f'n hell is this?! The Olympics or something where every sport imaginable (including the conjured up ones) is needing representation.

I just got done talking with a dear friend on this matter. He always makes me think twice about my environmental beliefs because he said why is my way of thinking better than anyone elses? Well, it isn't. But my counter suggestion to humanity is we already have a say, a footprint left on every other piece of American landscape. If their logging in National Parks and Forests, what's next? I guess my friend was right in the sense accomodations can be made to an extent with each group, but something inside me tells me Edward Abbey was right regarding "industrial tourism." The more it is made into an "amusement", the more the spiritual and philosophical principles fade. To me the park system should be appreciated "as is", not shaped into the varying people interests for money generation. The rest of the American landscape is already largely viewed as a commodity.

On Development in the National Parks
There are some who frankly and boldly advocate the eradication of the last remnants of wilderness and the complete subjugation of nature to the requirements of -- not man -- but industry. This is a courageous view, admirable in its simplicity and power, and with the weight of all modern history behind it. It is also quite insane. I cannot attempt to deal with it here.
"Industrial Tourism and the National Parks'' in Desert Solitaire

A Proposal for the National Parks
No more cars in national parks. Let the people walk. Or ride horses, bicycles, mules, wild pigs -- anything -- but keep the automobiles and the motorcycles and all their motorized relatives out. We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, art museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms and the other sanctums of our culture; we should treat our national parks with the same deference, for they, too, are holy places. An increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches. Let us behave accordingly.
"Industrial Tourism and the National Parks' in Desert Solitaire

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