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Parks for Posterity — February 12, 1916

Published: February 18, 2016

In February of 1916, Post editor George Lorimer showed his support once again for the passage of the National Park Service Organic Act of 1916, which would establish the NPS as a bureau within the Department of the Interior. In the editorial “Parks for Posterity,” the author argues that the “wisdom of this plan is so self-evident that no room is left for argument.”

Parks for Posterity

February 12, 1916

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park (Library of Congress)

A prime object in establishing the National Parks was to preserve their scenic attractions for future generations. They have been managed pretty exclusively to that end. The scenery is all there for future generations to enjoy. But scenery does not wear out with use, like clothing. The big travel to the San Francisco Exposition was only one of many signs that this generation has a lively interest in it; and not even Yellowstone Park has been made as available for present inspection as it might have been.

The trouble is that the National Parks, properly speaking, have not been managed at all. There has been no proper machinery for managing them. Each has been treated as a separate thing. The broad problems that affect all of them pretty much alike have never been handled as a whole. No expert staff has ever been available to handle them. The bill now before Congress for a National Park Service would remedy this at an expense that is trifling in view of the importance of the parks. The present situation is essentially that of a city with a dozen splendid but largely undeveloped parks, each of them under a separate management, which had to wrestle with the problems of that particular park as best it could without reference to any of the others. Of course no city would tolerate any such absurd arrangement. It would immediately establish a park board or bureau to manage all the parks coordinately.

That is precisely what the National Park Service Bill proposes to accomplish for the National Parks. The wisdom of this plan is so self-evident that no room is left for argument; in fact, the obstacle is not based on argument. It is based merely on inertia. Presidents, Secretaries of the Interior, and virtually all those who have really examined the subject favor unified management. Congress has simply put it off.

Let Congress do it now.

Read more about how the Post showed continued support for the National Park Service through George Lorimer’s editorials in “The Post and the Parks.”

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