Chapter 13 – National Parks and Wilderness: America’s Best Idea


Setting aside lands as a natural area for the enjoyment of the public and future generations is an American idea that has been emulated around the world. The National Park Service (NPS) manages the parks to preserve these special places as well as to provide for recreational uses. The degree to which commercial operations and recreational facilities are permitted in the parks is an ongoing source of controversy. The NPS also administers national monuments. The Wilderness Act created a National Wilderness Preserve System managed as undeveloped land where commercial enterprise, permanent roads and mechanized transportation, are prohibited. The degree to which commercial activities are permitted in candidate wilderness area is controversial as shown by recent litigation over the Forest Service’s Roadless Rule. Private organizations, called land trusts, also promote conservation goals by establishing conservation easements which permanently limit use of the land to protect its conservation value.