Chapter 1: Creating
Tradition: The Roots of National Park Management
Growth of the National Park Concept
Resorts, Spas, and Early National Parks
The Management of Nature
Chapter 2: Codifying
Tradition: The National Park Service Act of 1916
Advocates and Opponents
The Statement of Purpose
A Utilitarian Act
Chapter 3: Perpetuating
Tradition: The National Parks under Stephen T. Mather,
Building Park Service Leadership
A Formal Policy and a Bureaucratic Rivalry
Appropriate and Inappropriate Park Development
Deletions and Additions of Park Lands
The Predator Problem
Popular Wildlife Species
Ecological Concerns and Mather's Leadership
Utilitarian Aesthetics and National Park Management
Chapter 4: The Rise and
Decline of Ecological Attitudes, 1929-1940
Park Service Leadership and the Wildlife Problem
Conflict over Park Development
Rangelands and the Grazing Species
Expanding Park Service Programs
New Deal Impacts on the Park Service
Declining Influence of the Wildlife Biologists
Chapter 5: The War and
Postwar Years, 1940-1963
Wartime and Postwar Pressures
Natural Resource Issues under Drury and Wirth
The Status of Wildlife Biology
The Road to Mission 66
Changes in Wilderness and Recreation Programs
The Public Hunting and Crisis and a New Look at National Parks
Chapter 6: Science and the
Struggle for Bureaucratic Power: The Leopold Era,
Mission 66 and Parkscape U.S.A.
The Leopold and National Academy Reports
The Pursuit of Bureaucratic Power
Environmental Legislation and Change
Policies-New and Old
Natural Regulation and Elk
The State of the Parks Report
Chapter 7: A House
Divided: The National Park Service and Environmental
Building an Environmental Record
The Vail Agenda
National Park Service Culture and Recreational Tourism
Index (omitted from the online edition)
This book is published partially through a generous grant from
Eastern National Park and Monument Association.
All royalties from this book go to the Albright-Wirth Employee
Development Fund to advance the professional skills of National Park
Earlier versions of portions of this book have appeared in the
Washington Post, Wilderness, Journal of Forestry, Montana The Magazine
of Western History, and The George Wright Forum.
Copyright © 1997 by Yale University.
All rights reserved.
This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, including
illustrations, in any form (beyond that copying permitted by Sections
107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the
public press), without written permission from the publishers.
Printed edition designed by James J. Johnson and set in Caledonia
types by Keystone Typesetting, Inc. Printed in the United States of
America by Edwards Brothers, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Sellars, Richard West, 1935
Preserving nature in the national parks: a
history/Richard West Sellars.
Includes bibliographical references
ISBN 0-300-06931-6 (cloth)
1. United States. National Park Service
History. 2. National parks and reserves
History. 3. Nature conservationUnited
StatesHistory. 4. Natural resources
History. I. Title
SB482.A4 S44 1977
A catalogue record for this book is available
from the British Library.
For John E. Cook,
of the National Park Service,
and for my wife,
Judith Stevenson Sellars
But our national heritage is richer than just scenic features; the
realization is coming that perhaps our greatest national heritage is
nature itself, with all its complexity and its abundance of life, which,
when combined with great scenic beauty as it is in the national parks,
becomes of unlimited value. This is what we would attain in the national
GEORGE M. WRIGHT, JOSEPH S. DIXON, and BEN H. THOMPSON, Fauna of the National Parks of
the United States, 1933
A national park should represent a vignette of primitive America. . .
. Yet if the goal cannot be fully achieved it can be approached. A
reasonable illusion of primitive America could be recreated, using the
utmost in skill, judgment and ecologic sensitivity. This in our opinion
should be the objective of every national park and monument.
A. STARKER LEOPOLD et al., "Wildlife Management in the National Parks" (The Leopold Report),
I have always thought of our Service as an institution, more than any
other bureau, engaged in a field essentially of moralitythe aim of
man to rise above himself, and to choose the option of quality rather
than material superfluity.
FREEMAN TILDEN to GEORGE B. HARTZOG, JR., ca. 1971
Many of our problems are historical, but history can't be wiped out.
JOHN A. CARVER, JR., Assistant Secretary of the Interior, to the National Park Superintendents
"Conference of Challenges," Yosemite National Park, October 1963