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State Park Superintendent Mike Wells makes a point at the end of the article that I think hints at the the underlying forces actually responsible for what we’re experiencing.
Wells says that development pressures have typified his 31-year park career. Pressures for land use and development have been present for all public parks – stae, county, and national – since the beginning.
That’s not the story. The story actually lies in the political will that is now predominant across the US. I don’t think our country’s parks have ever before felt such peril – not even in the boisterous era of President Reagan and his then-Secretary of the Interior Watts.
It may have helped that that administration’s efforts were so boisterous. The things they uttered as they announced their decisions figuratively shot themselves in the foot. And luckily, all that came right on the heels of the developing environmental movement, so there were a lot of people all hopped up and ready to go.
But now, taking advantage of the large cycles of political will, those with power and those fighting for power have learned to be more insidious, more quiet in their chipping away at modern reforms.
Even Earth Day has been co-opted into the fashion of lip service. Real resistance to the erosion of wilderness and park areas is politically insignificant.
It’s not that there are more developers now, or more people – it’s that the political will is against protecting nature.
The predominant ethic is that it is a resource. More than ever before, people of this persuasion are in power and those who would disagree are locked out.
I agree with Wells, that “parks have become exceptional areas” – really, exceptional in more ways than one.