Can Industrial Development and Preservation of Scenic and Historic National Parks and Monuments Successfully Co-Exist Side by Side?

Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent-It is true; mankind’s efforts have vastly outweighed their expectations.  Who would have thought that I’d be typing this worded message on a small tablet that can be taken with me anywhere in the world?  Mankind has greatly developed throughout the years but to the detriment of what?  I’m sure you can name a few.  To expand and enhance industrial developments, we have to abandon a very integral part of our society.

Truly, as a result of man’s efforts to create a more advanced, efficient, and technologically adept society, we are leaving a significant and rich cultural heritage behind, one that will never be restored once removed.  Sadly, we are getting rid of our scenic and historic national parks and monuments, all in the name of industrial development.

One such national park that has been greatly degraded due to agricultural and urban development is the Everglades National Park.  This degradation has resulted in a ‘loss of marine habitat and decline in marine species.’  The more industrialized mankind becomes, the more natural, historic, and scenic resources we’ll lose.  Can these both co-exist?  I am afraid not.  In fact, I believe that one day the Creator will bring to ruin those ruining the earth.  Our natural, scenic, and historic resources will eventually become non-existence.  Mankind needs to choose wisely.

 

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-As a contributor to and supporter of the preservation of land falling under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, I receive regular e-mails warning about one potential industrial encroachment after another—mining operations, real estate development, power lines, and cell phone towers marring an otherwise pristine landscape, etc.  It concerns me that business executives continually seem to covet national landmarks as places in which to do business or extract raw materials.

The fact that these proposals are feasible enough to reach regulatory agencies indicates two possibilities.  Either there is merit to the cases for developing land in or around National Parks and Monuments, or the system is so corrupted in favor of business over conservation that the onslaught is intentional.  Businesses may believe gaining approval to develop these areas is low-hanging fruit because federal government bureaucrats are easier to influence or even buy off than state or local governments or private parties.

If this onslaught continues, it raises a two-part question.  First, can business co-exist with wilderness or historically significant locations?  And is it possible for this situation to do no permanent damage to the ecology or the hallowedness of those special places?  The answer to the question is “Absolutely not.”

Historic sites may already be in populated areas that are subject to pollution of various types.  Think urban settings, busy roads, and large numbers of people in proximity.  To add further to that mess or to infringe on sites that may be historic and scenic, such as the Colonial National Historical Park in Jamestown, Virginia is unacceptable.

To encroach on truly wild places like the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), Grand Canyon National Park, or any other remote National Park, is blasphemy.  Why?  Because wilderness once defiled will take decades, if not centuries, to return to its natural state once it has been polluted by air, water, mining, or even the effects of seemingly innocuous tourist businesses like hotels and restaurants.  Wilderness is defined by a distinct and more or less permanent lack of people, noise, man-made structures, air and water contamination, even man-made light.  To build a copper sulfide mine adjacent to the BWCAW can have effects that drift into or over the real wilderness, turning it into merely an empty place that is no longer pristine and holds no value to those who value pure nature.

Policies need to be enacted that guarantee no truly wild national sites will ever be compromised by any human development and that all national sites, no matter what their current situation, will not be further diminished in any way by human encroachment.  We owe that to our children and grandchildren, and to the rest of the world.

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-Huge strides have been made in the last 50 years in making sure that industrial operations and the procurement of natural resources leave a smaller footprint in the world.  Back in the ‘80s, I remember an ad from Shell oil that showed a wellhead in the middle of a forest.  The implication was that oil could be had without smearing the effluvia of the process from hell to breakfast.

By and large, although that image was overly idyllic, industry has kept its promise…as long as you don’t look at the strip mines, mountaintop-removal mines and other cases of the wholesale rape and pillage of Mother Nature taking place in West Virginia and other areas.

That, however, is a response to the world’s continuing hunger for a natural resource that’s very hard to obtain without creating environmental damage on a colossal scale.  Oil is far easier and cleaner to obtain, and if the proper protocols and safeguards are heeded, the chance for disaster is reduced tremendously.

The question then becomes:  What if?  What if a pipeline ruptures (as has happened twice recently with the gasoline line feeding a lot of the Eastern US).  What if a seismic disturbance creates havoc?  (Yellowstone is a hotbed of seismic activity.)  What if simple human error or incompetence leads to a massive contamination of an area that will take decades to clean up? (Anyone ever heard of the Exxon Valdez?)

As much as I support industry, and I understand there are natural resources to be had within the borders of our stunning national parks, I just can’t bring myself to get behind the idea of allowing any sort of industrial activity.  The risk, however minimal, is in my opinion too great to be allowed.  There are species in our parks that exist nowhere else on earth, and our hunger for resources cannot be allowed to overcome our love for our planet in this instance.

 

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-Industrial development and preservation of scenic and historic national parks and monuments can successfully co-exist side by side if the right logistics and environmental considerations are put into play.  The problems occur when the federal government and states that contain national parks and monuments attempt to decide who has jurisdiction over the areas in question.

Though the parks and monuments are under protection from the federal government, if the national parks and monuments are going to be subject to state and private ownership transfer, then industrial development could present environmental difficulties with land and natural resource use that is within or close to the parks and monuments.

Public access to the parks and monuments is what has lead environmental groups and conservative organizations to oppose industrialization.  Tradition and public admiration surround national parks and monument areas, and their use and possible misuse is of concern to most Americans.  There is fear of these areas becoming off limits and inaccessible because of industrial pursuits that will deface and spoil the areas, plus take away from long held beliefs as to what the parks and monuments systems represent.  The preservation of national parks and monuments is unique to America, and it is a concept that doesn’t die easily.

There are varying conflicts with industrial development near parks and monuments and one such example is with the formation of a national monument in the Katahdin region of Maine where park proponents hope for eventual development of a national park through the initial monument designation.  There is resistance to the monument and park because of harm to the economy of Maine, the engrained forest products industry within the region, and Maine’s land management system.

A more detrimental example of industrial development has occurred in the Bakken region of North Dakota where oil drilling, related production and business activity have caused harm to the Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park.  Though the actual park is protected from oil drilling, the areas outside of each unit of the park have been affected by air and water pollution, disruption of various park habitats, blockage of park views, gas flares as well as illegal dumping, oil byproducts and oil spills, inoperable roads and heavy traffic, strained infrastructure in surrounding towns, and a skyrocketing cost of living.  All of these factors have caused disruptions and inconveniences in the park’s operation and visitors note changes in the park and its surroundings.

These examples serve as instances of how industrial development can affect the preservation of scenic and historic national parks and monuments.  If the two are to co-exist successfully,  there must be plans laid out in detail that are based on common sense solutions along with the wise use of land and natural resources in the most efficacious manner.  Environmental impact has to be taken into consideration and protective measures put into effect to allow industries to prosper but not to the detriment of a national park or monument that happens to be in the immediate vicinity.

Successes can be met on both fronts if responsible development is the key along with the right oversight and concern for the environment that encompasses any national park or monument.  No one can argue with the preservation of America’s most beloved and valuable resources and their historical significance.

 

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