Political Science | Politics of National Parks/Wilderness (3 cr)
Y665 | 3328 | 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 field trips to at least two destinations, most likely the Deam
Wilderness (Indiana's only wilderness) and Great Smoky Mountain National
Park.  On these expeditions we will be consulting 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 and
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.