Undiscovered America Conversation with Erica Rosenberg

Although its only four episodes old, the Undiscovered America Podcast has already become one of my favorites. The podcast is done by blogger Zack Frank, who runs the blog of the same name, and is scheduled to have new episodes releaed on a biweekly basis.  Each episode features a converation between Zack Frank and a traveler or park advocate.  Although I am a little late in getting to writing a post about it, Episode #3 with Congressional staffer Erica Rosenberg was particularly interesting. You can give it a listen by downloading it from Itunes or Stitcher, or by listening to it directly here:

As readers of this blog know, I’m a big advocate for new national parks, in the belief that the National Park System should be inclusive of all of the Nation’s most-significant natural, historical, and cultural places. Erica Rosenberg, in an earlier phase in her life, founded an organization called People United for Parks. Sadly, one of the lessons she learned from her experience with that organization is that there isn’t a national constituency for establishing new national parks. Zak Frank pointed out that although organizations like the National Park Foundation, the National Parks Conservation Asasociation,  and the Sierra Club all advocate for the creation of new national parks as part of their broader advocacy efforts, none of those organizaitons place the creation of new parks at the top of their agenda.

The truth of the matter is that “all politics is local,” and this is especially true of national parks.  The residents of the community and state where a new national park will be created will be most impacted by the setting aside of that land, so their support is crucial.   Moreover, the core visitors of any national park unit (with the exception of a few “destination” parks) are visitors from the immediately surrounding community, and likewise, it is their support that will be crucial for advancing the proposal.

Along the way, the conservation highlights a few of my favorite proposals for new national parks in the eastern United States, including Maine North Woods National Park in Maine and High Allegheny National Park in West Virginia.   In particular, these proposals are not just for new national historic sites, which are relatively easy to create, but true national park national parks that would be full-fledged, full-service national parks.

The discussion continues with another good discussion on the balance between the desire and to designate wilderness, which is the highest-level of preservation that can be established in the United States, and the inherent need to establish facilities in national parks “for the enjoyment of the people” – to quote the inscription on the gateway arch to Yellowstone National Park.

Anyhow, the whole thing is a great conversation, I encourage you to listen to it, and also to subscribe to the Undiscovered America Podcast through your favorite podcast service.

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