By: John C Miles
334 pages, 20 b/w illus
Wilderness in National Parks casts light on the complicated relationship between the National Park Service and its policy goals of wilderness preservation and recreation. By examining the overlapping and sometimes contradictory responsibilities of the park service and the national wilderness preservation system, John C. Miles finds the National Park Service still struggling to deal with an idea that lies at the core of its mission and yet complicates that mission, nearly one hundred years into its existence.
The National Park Service's ambivalence about wilderness is traced from its beginning to the turn of the twenty-first century. The Service is charged with managing more wilderness acreage than any government agency in the world and, in its early years, frequently favored development over preservation. The public has perceived national parks as permanently protected wilderness resources, but in reality this public confidence rests on shaky ground.
Miles shows how changing conceptions of wilderness affected park management over the years, with a focus on the tension between the goals of providing recreational spaces for the American people and leaving lands pristine and undeveloped for future generations. John C. Miles is professor of environmental studies at Western Washington University.
Wilderness in National Parks is timely, original, ambitious, and comprehensive. It's a big book on a big subject. William Dietrich, author of Natural Grace: The Charm, Wonder, and Lessons of Pacific Northwest Animals and Plants "Wilderness in National Parks is an extensively researched chronological narrative of specific events driving the internal debate within the National Park Service about whether and how to treat the concept of wilderness in managing the national parks. I highly recommend the book." - Timothy Duane, University of California, Berkeley, and Vermont Law School "John Miles's Wilderness in National Parks is a well-conceived treatment of the complicated relationship between the National Park Service and wilderness and all of its proponents. He hits the right themes and nicely negotiates the twists and turns of policy. This is a solid addition to the bookshelf of national park histories." - Hal Rothman, author of The New Urban Park: Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Civic Environmentalism
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