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A Case of Preservation vs. Use [1914-1916]

1914 - 1916:
A man interviews Enos Mills at Rocky Mountain National Park
The argument for Rocky Mountain National Park:

Much of the effort to create Rocky Mountain National Park came from a Colorado man named Enos Mills. When Mills was twenty years old, he met John Muir in California and was deeply influenced by him. Mills went on to become much like Muir—walking in the Colorado wilderness on his own and then advocating for preservationism by publishing articles, giving lectures, and writing letters to congressmen and other important figures.

Photo: A man interviews Enos Mills at Rocky Mountain National Park

 
Sandbeach Lake Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park
Enough protection?

The Forest Service objected when the proposal for Rocky Mountain National Park was put forward, as the lands in question were currently national forests under their jurisdiction. Mills was adamant that the protection of the Forest Service did not go far enough: "It deals almost entirely with the business world and is as plainly and severely a business proposition as is the growing of wheat and potatoes or the raising of hogs." Other opposition came from locals who didn't want any more restrictions on what they could do with the land.

Photo: Sandbeach Lake Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park

 
Rocky Mountain National Park dedication ceremony, Sept. 1915
A compromise:

When the final bill authorizing the national park was passed, compromises had been made to appease mining, timber, and agricultural interests, reducing the size of the park to one-third of what Mills had proposed. Nevertheless, this park was a great achievement and vindication for Mills. Before John Muir died, he wrote a letter to Mills in 1913 saying, "I glory in your success as a writer and lecturer and in saving God's parks for the welfare of humanity."

The official dedication ceremony for Rocky Mountain National Park was held on September 4, 1915. Stephen Mather and Horace Albright attended this dedication ceremony.

Photo: Rocky Mountain National Park dedication ceremony, Sept. 1915

 
NPS Director Stephen T. Mather on a visit to Indiana Dunes, 1916
Culture and the political climate:

The push for parks was not confined to federal efforts. Many states pursued state parks during the early 1900s as well. In 1916, during the waning days of the Progressive Era, Indiana established two state parks, McCormick's Creek and Turkey Run. In addition to protecting natural and cultural resources, Indiana established these state parks to commemorate its centennial celebration of statehood.

Photo: NPS Director Stephen T. Mather on a visit to Indiana Dunes, 1916


 

Learn More:

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The National Park Service uniforms, yesterday and today.


Reflection:

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What if there were no National Parks?
Would the nation be able to look beyond the resources such as timber, minerals, and game and preserve the natural values of the land?



Activity:

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Cast your Vote!
The National Park Service manages over 84,000,000 acres. The U.S. Forest Service manages 193,000,000 acres. Is this a good balance?