Table of Contents



Biographical Vignettes

Recommendations for
Further Reading

Parks and People

Evolution of a National Park Concept

Wildiands Designated...But Vulnerable

Creating a Service to Manage the System

Expanding the Scope

Revising the Mission

Rehabilitation and Expansion

Partners and Alliances

National Park Service: The First 75 Years
Partners and Alliances
National Park Service Arrowhead

Parks and People:
Preserving Our Past For The Future

                                          by Barry Mackintosh

Anasazi granary reconstruction, Boy Scouts in Zion National Park, June 1929.

Partners and Alliances

James M. Ridenour, former director of Indiana's Department of Natural Resources, became the thirteenth director of the National Park Service in 1989. From the outset, he stressed the importance of working with other government bodies, foundations, corporations, other private groups, and individuals to protect valuable lands in and outside the national park system.

Ridenour's emphasis on cooperation and partnerships was not new. Ever since the Mather years, the Service and system have benefited richly from the contributions of others. The Rockefeller family donated millions of dollars for substantial portions of Acadia, Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Teton, and Virgin Islands national parks, lesser parts of many other parks, and numerous park improvements. The Mellon family foundations contributed heavily to seashore and lakeshore surveys and land acquisition at Cape Hatteras and Cumberland Island national seashores, among other projects. In July 1990, the Richard King Mellon Foundation made the largest single park donation to that time: $10.5 million for needed lands at Antietam, Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, and Petersburg battlefields and Shenandoah National Park.

Elizabeth Titus
Elizabeth Titus.

More often, private contributions have taken the form of volunteer efforts to preserve and interpret national parklands and landmarks. Somewhere in the history of nearly every park is a dedicated group or individual who cared enough about that place to do whatever was necessary to save it, improve it, and share its significance with others. Rocky Mountain National Park had its Enos Mills. Crater Lake had its William Gladstone Steel. Mount McKinley — now Denali — had its Charles Sheldon. Everglades had its Marjorie Stoneman Douglas. Colorado National Monument had its John Otto. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal had its William O. Douglas. Organizations like the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, and the National Parks and Conservation Association have worked to establish and protect numerous national parklands.

Other groups have assumed primary responsibility for places that might otherwise require Service management. George Washington's Mount Vernon is ably cared for by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, while Thomas Jefferson's Monticello prospers in the equally good hands of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation. Both properties bear the national historic landmark plaque, awarded by the secretary of the interior to nationally significant historic places regardless of ownership. Organizations like those at Mount Vernon and Monticello are vital partners of the Service in preserving and providing for public enjoyment of America's greatest treasures.

Lorraine Mintzmyer
Lorraine Mintzmyer.

As the Service celebrates its 75th anniversary, it faces challenges greater than at any time in its history. The parks, many buffered by rural or wilderness surroundings in years past, are increasingly besieged by development. What goes on outside their boundaries can affect their air, their water, their wildlife, their natural and historic ambience, as profoundly as what goes on within. Natural and cultural landmarks outside the parks face similar threats, prompting pressures to include them in the park system.

Were it ever possible for the Service itself to preserve the parks "unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations," it is no longer. Nor can the Service be expected to shoulder alone the burden of protecting other threatened nationally significant lands and resources. The call for cooperation and partnerships with others may not be new, but it is more vital than ever.

If the past is indeed prologue, the call will be heard and heeded.



Last Modified: Dec 1 2000 10:00:00 pm PDT

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