Political Science | Pol of Wilderness & Nat Parks
Y401 | 3707 | Tilton
As midwesterners, we sometimes fail to appreciate how controversial
the politics of national parks and wilderness can be. Caught up in the
enthusiasm for national parks as "America's best political idea" (Wallace
Stegner) and the general support of the l964 Wilderness Act, we miss the
in-fighting over park appropriations, boundaries, inholdings,
and development as well as the contentious western politics surrounding the
designation of Bureau of Land Management wilderness under the 1976 Federal
Land Policy Management Act. In this course we will examine the history of
national park and wilderness policy and survey current problems and policy.
We may briefly compare some foreign systems with the United States. I hope
to arrange a field trip to the Deam Wilderness (Indiana's only wilderness).
On this expedition we will consult with government personnel, but will also
feel an obligation to experience the natural setting that causes all the
excitement! Some of our central issues will be: What land gets set aside
as national parks or wilderness, and why? How has the federal domain
evolved and how do the holdings of the Forest Service, the National Park
Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and other federal agencies affect
the politics of states and the nation as a whole? How has the
preservationist idea evolved? How well does the national government succeed
in preserving ecosystems?
What is "wilderness" and how should it be managed? How much should there
be? What sort of constituency is there for national parks and wilderness
and what is its future? Students will be expected to contribute to the
discussion of these issues and to produce a research paper on an issue of
this sort. I will try to set a good example by reporting on my own research
into the fascinating controversy over wilderness designation in Utah.