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tombarnes

National Parks

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Restricted Access to Our National Parks May Become A New Reality

As our national parks system grows ever more popular with visitors, the need for expanded services has clashed with the greater need to protect the parks themselves. It is quite possible that parks may limit access to visitors in order to prevent overcrowding. I think this may be a good idea, especially when one considers that many areas within the parks are already restricted. What are your thoughts?

Associated Press/Sun Herald

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I don't know - I think the parks should be as public as possible. But I know it's not just a Yellowstone and Yosemite issue - the Eastern parks are really walled in, and Great Smoky Mountains, which contains a large chunk of wilderness is dealing with traffic and smog issues. Some of the parks are being loved to death, basically.

As the East grows ever more densely populated, there are several places E of the Mississippi, along with some in the West that I think should be part of the NPS and currently are not (like the Dismal Swamp and the pocosins in E NC, and the Linville Gorge wilderness along the Blue Ridge), but especially in crowded parts of the country the land use issues need to be hashed out first.

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I've always thought they should follow Abbey's suggestion: put the parking lots 5 miles from the actual park and require people hike or mule in. At least for Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Yellowstone. Motor vehicles inside of natural places we're trying to preserve seems counter-intuitive.

The crowds have gotten ridiculous, and building some sort of convenience item for them like a store, restaurants, developed campsites or even developed toilets seems to go against the preservation ethic of the national parks, one of their original intentions. However, you also have the "provide access" part of that as well, and that's where it gets complex.

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If citizens are restricted access from nature, why should they care to preserve it? By exposing people to the wonders of nature, I think they take a much greater interest in ensuring there are natural places available to future generations. If it is a large walled compound that one must hike 5 miles just to gain access, you'll have about 1% of the population actually give a crap if it even exists. Seriously, it is our taxes that have preserved and maintained these lands. There are a few overcrowded National Parks that may need a cap placed on the number of visitors per day. But I think most National Parks should remain as open as possible.

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