The future of the Park and the Trees and the Culture

from Visalia Times Delta article by Brett Wilkison interviewing Bill Tweed,
published September 19, 2009

Three Rivers resident Bill Tweed worked 28 years in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, including 10 years as the parks’ chief naturalist. His forthcoming book, “Uncertain Path: The Future of National Parks”— due out next summer from University of California Press — looks at the challenges the now 93-year-old park system faces in this century and beyond….

But you’re still optimistic about the future of national parks?

My reason for optimism is that more than almost anything else that America does, the national parks inspire us to do good things. That actually is going to be the message of Ken Burns. He uses this famous quote from a man named James Bryce, who was the British ambassador to the United States back in the early 20th century. He said the national parks were “the best idea America ever had.”

In terms of inspiring behavior, in terms of inspiring good things in America, national parks have always done that. They bring us together in all kinds of ways. American people support them and the idea has spread world wide. Parks have periodically challenged us to reinvent ourselves. Parks teach us things because they are our natural laboratories and we learn things as we work in parks and try to manage them. Parks have a profoundly positive impact on us as a people. It goes way beyond the economic impact, which is the quick one. But there’s really a much bigger national effect. It affects our whole national culture. I think that’s appropriate because not only am I saying it but, Ken Burns, you add up all 12 hours of his film, that’s what he will have said. It’s not new to me and its not new to him. It’s an idea that’s been around for a long time. And it’s true.

bildeVisitors can look out to a meadow filled with wildlife
from the porch at the Wolverton picnic area.

photo:  Steve R. Fujimoto

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