National Park: America’s “Best Ideas”

Yokohama is a continent, with two oceans on the east, including four time zones. The north and south extend from the Tropic of Cancer to the Arctic Circle – the country of 9.52 million square kilometers, ranking the fourth largest country in the world. The vast area, the climatic characteristics across the subtropical, temperate and frigid zones, and the grotesque surface features have nurtured many unique natural landscapes in the United States. They have become an important symbol of the country and a source of economic resources.

From the dazzling coral reefs of Biscayne in the southern tip of Florida to the innocent glaciers of Alaska at the northern end; from the deserts of California’s Death Valley to the tens of millions of Blue Ridge Highways per year… Today there are 60 countries scattered across the United States. park.

In 2016, on the anniversary of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, the National Park of the United States launched a three-day free ticket tour. The US social photo sharing site Instagram has collected more than 307,000 maps labeled “nps100” (National Park Service 100 anniversary, National Park Service 100th Anniversary). In 2017, 331 million visitors visited the 60 national parks, bringing in 306,000 jobs and $18.2 billion in tourism revenue.

It has been 146 years since the establishment of the world’s first national park, Yellowstone Park. It has been 102 years since the establishment of a specialized administrative agency for the management of national parks in the United States. The national park still plays an important role in the economic and cultural life of the United States, which also meets its expectations at the beginning of its establishment. Writer and historian Wallace Stegner once referred to the National Park as “the best idea ever made in the United States.” “Complete America, completely democratic, it reflects our best, not the worst.”

The two countries, “completely American” and “completely democratic,” have raised the national park from the tourism resources to the national spirit and political system. How can national parks be called “completely American” and “completely democratic”? Or more specifically, how does the United States use the national park to map out the American spirit? What kind of democratic characteristics are the national parks established and managed? With such questions, let us have a trip to the US National Park on paper.

Call of the wild
On the home page of the National Park Service, there is a chic ad that invites visitors to the national park “experience your America.” How does “the United States” hide in a national park? This may be from the history of the founding of the United States and the establishment of the world’s first national park.

In 1492, the “New World” in the eyes of this European was discovered by the Columbus-led global sailing fleet.

In 1620, the “Mayflower” was full of Protestants who were dissatisfied with the old religious order, fled from the “old world” and began to open up new civilizations on a wild land. And this new civilization will be based on the complete abandonment of the ancient feudal and royal powers of Europe, and the embrace of freedom and innovation. From an ancient continent full of war and smoke, to an unknown, “uncultivated” land, the origin of the United States was originally with the spirit of “pioneers.”

This “pioneer” spirit is particularly evident in the two “westward advances” in American history.

At the beginning of the “Mayflower” landing, the colonial operation only stopped at Massachusetts on the east coast. But on the eve of the American Revolution, it has expanded into 13 colonial states, and the colonial population has grown from about 2,000 to 2.5 million. “Thanksgiving Day” bears in mind the early colonists’ gratitude to the aboriginal Indians and has been preserved in history and today’s reality. However, during the establishment of the 13 colonies, most of them were armed conflicts and wars between the colonists and the Indians. Needless to say, the well-known “Westward Movement” after the founding of the United States.

After the War of Independence, the United States won the land between the west of the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River from the hands of the United Kingdom. The new federal government has developed a comprehensive westward plan. At the end of the 18th century, the war against Britain and Spain for the western colonies of the American continent never ceased. Once the control of the land was acquired, it was followed by the expulsion of the aborigines; a large number of Indians were excluded from the “reservation place” with the meaning of apartheid under the pressure of force and even massacres.

Brown bear living in Yellowstone National Park

After the vacuum was cleared, the federal government used the Homestead Act, the California Gold Mine, and the invigorating railway construction to stimulate a large amount of labor into the vast and lonely western region. By the end of the Civil War, the United States had pushed its borders to the Pacific coast, and the land area had increased more than seven times compared to the announcement of independence.

This spirit of “going to the wilderness” runs through the growth of the United States from a pocket rebel to a trans-oceanic country. The American spirit cultivated by the struggle against nature, the aborigines, and the defenders of the old order (the United Kingdom and Spain) is actually a Darwinian style that abandons the order of choice. In the natural state, life is always in the process of struggling to survive and gain meaning and strength. Being the strongest in the order of the weak and strong food is the highest reward for life.

The United States is too young compared to the “old world” of Europe and the vast Asian civilization that was not known to the Americans at the time. There are no towering Gothic churches, and there are no magnificent palaces. The traditions of religion and royal family are so strange here. To establish a sense of national identity and national honor, perhaps you can only look at the unique and magnificent Natural scenery. This appreciation of the natural scenery coincides with the realist spirit of the founding fathers who conquered the wilderness. The National Park represented by Yellowstone was selected as the embodiment of the United States.

In 1871, the government-funded geographer Hayden visited the Yellowstone area and brought back a wealth of images and pictures. Concerns about the region’s beauty and fear of future damage have prompted Hayden to become an active promoter of national parks. A year later, Congress passed the “Yellowstone Act” to classify the area as a public leisure venue, protected from resource development and geographic exploration.

However, as the wheel of history rolls forward, the American spirit has long been confined to the “pioneering” at the beginning of the founding of the country, and national parks are no longer confined to natural scenery. Today’s US national park system includes the national battlefield, the National Military Park, the National Historic Park, the National Monument, and other places where American historical events occur. The Mesa Verde National Park, the Washington Monument, the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Park, the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, and other unnatural artifacts have also been incorporated into the national park system, making the National Park still “experience the United States.” “The choice is the best.”

Details of democracy
The US Congress passed the Yellowstone Park Act, which directly received more than 8,000 square kilometers of land, sounding smooth and full of idealism. But in fact, this proposal still passed the dispute of about 10 years before and after, and the real dust settled.

Before the establishment of Yellowstone Park, in 1865, some people proposed to protect this area. Congress asked the proponents to produce tangible evidence that the land was not suitable for any form of development such as farming, grazing or living. After the establishment, there was also a constant opposition to the need to hand over the park to a private company to reduce the “concentration” of the national park.

Indeed, in the context of American democracy and federalism, it is necessary to take a considerable amount of land from the hands of the state and return it to the direct jurisdiction of the federal government, and this land will no longer be used for economic purposes, with real estate development and resources. Development and even local tourism development insulation, which requires the federal government to exert great courage, and long-term consultation and compromise with the state government, as well as private individuals pursuing economic interests.

Mentioning American national parks, one cannot fail to mention the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. Known as the “President of the Environment,” Roosevelt has promoted the establishment of five national parks, 18 national protected areas, and 51 federal bird sanctuaries.

As a mountain climber, when Roosevelt visited California in 1903, he slipped away from a dinner party and walked to Yosemite with environmentalist John Moore and camped at Glacier Point. When I woke up the next morning, the sleeping bag was covered with snow. Old Roosevelt said in his memory: “This is the best day of my life.” His personal experience directly led to the Yosemite Valley, still managed by the California state government, and was admitted to Yosemite National Park. Jurisdiction.

Even with the support of a powerful president such as Theodore Roosevelt, national parks are inevitably involved in the tug of war between the federal government and the state government and people.

In 1908, Roosevelt signed a bill to establish the Lake Malur Reserve in Oregon, plotting about 1 million acres of land as a habitat for native natural birds, protecting the innocent victim of the then prosperous hat industry, the Great Egret. But just after the establishment of this national park for more than a decade, some Oregonians began to calculate the economic account.

They took water from the waters of Lake Malur, causing the lake to shrink and become a saline-alkali land. They want to simply dry the lake so that they can sell the land and use the income as a local construction school. They slogan “Children precede the egrets” and oppose the state government to hand over the ownership of the land to the federal government. The state government and the federal government therefore spent the same thing on the Supreme Court. In 1935, the “United States v. Oregon case” was pronounced in the Supreme Court. Fortunately, “the United States” won and legally obtained the management rights of the lake and the surrounding wetlands.

The federal and local because of the national parks, the “best ideas” are often accused of “not to eat meat” elitism. Most of the opponents also stand in the perspective of “for the benefit of future generations” and hope to use the “idle” land for more economically meaningful purposes. After all, the babies who are waiting to be fed are much more important to the people than the rare animals that cannot be reached. But this is also the charm of federalism and democracy. Just because there is no one-size-fits-all government, the tension between the federal and local, idealism and realism, naturalism and materialism will always exist.

Today, within 418 national park systems, large and small destinations carry the diverse functions of environmental protection, history education, and natural research. It is hard to imagine that these thousands of square kilometers of national parks have been used as a patriotic education base in the 21st century, the number one modern country marked by technology and popular culture.

A hundred years later, the National Park is still the best carrier to tell the story of the United States. Here is the pride of the wilderness, and there is a resounding history. In this way, the evaluation of “best ideas” is indeed true.

The next time you go to the United States, besides being a drunken fan in the city of desire, it is better to drive away the wild road and go to the national parks that are “completely American” and “completely democratic”. There, maybe you will also experience one – the United States in your heart.