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The book delves into issues affecting an array of parks: the iconic western national parks like Yellowstone; the urban parks such as Golden Gate National Recreation Area; historic sites including the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Gettysburg National Military Park; and cultural areas like Mesa Verde National Park that are among America's over 400 national parks. Twenty-three essays from contributing authors with deep personal and professional connections to the national parks serve as expert guides to places in the park system where:
- much of the nation's biological and cultural diversity is represented;
- ideas such as freedom, civil rights, and conservation were conceived;
- vast wilderness offers solitude and reflection;
- storied landscapes preserve a sense of place;
- the balance between recreation and preservation is tested;
- research and learning engage the next generation;
- the dynamics of nature are being shaped by a changing climate; and
- innovations in technology, sustainability, and stewardship provide a sense of purpose and hope.
Robert E. Manning, Ph.D., is Steven Rubenstein Professor of Environment and Natural Resources at University of Vermont Rolf Diamant is a former national park superintendent and is now adjunct associate professor at the University of Vermont Nora J. Mitchell, Ph.D. is former Director, National Park Service Stewardship Institute and is now adjunct associate professor at the University of Vermont David Harmon is executive director of the George Wright Society.