|Navy Pier Amusement Park|
The Park Service created many of these headaches through a misinterpretation of the Organic Act. The Park Service believes the law requires the agency to balance recreation and conservation. It doesn't. But even if it did, the Park Service's management of the "recreation vs. conservation" balance currently favors an ever expanding number of recreational pursuits. Many of which do not need a park setting to enjoy.
In the George Wright piece, my co-authors and I note the battle to determine the appropriateness of jet skis, snowmobiles, and off-road vehicles in the National Park System is part of a much larger struggle over what type of vision will guide future of national parks like Yellowstone, Glacier, and the Everglades. Will our national parks remain those sites where America protects some of its most sacred ideas, hopes, and places, or will they be allowed to degrade into nothing more than amusement parks? Sadly, even after 15 years the jury is still out on this question.