Posted by: David Stewart | September 10, 2008

Whither the National Parks?

It is widely regarded as the worst Star Trek film in the series.

But embedded in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) is an extremely hopeful message about ecology. In the opening scene, our intrepid Captain Kirk is doing a free climb up the side of El Capitan, in what we recognize to be Yellowstone National Park.

The crew is chilling out on shore leave, and are camping, hiking and clowning around various natural sites. “Pack out your trash,” calls Kirk as they are recalled to the Enterprise for active duty.

Given that this story takes place about 200 years in the future, it presents a hopeful sign that Yellowstone and other natural places might still be recognizable on the Earth of the future.

When Teddy Roosevelt created the national park system, it established a new value for our young country: blessed with incredible unspoiled areas, maybe we should reserve some of them for future generations, so they can experience them as well.

  • Wilderness areas – No touch (let's hope)
  • National Parks – Preserved in a natural state with limited development to allow people to enter the areas and appreciate them. Includes roads and lodges.
  • National Forests – Reserved by the Federal Government for careful exploitation of the natural resources

Glacier National Park
I admit that Glacier National Park was a total unknown to me before the Labor Day weekend. While we were in Montana for a family wedding, we took an afternoon in a rented car and drove through the park. The place was amazing!

We bisected the Park in our rented SUV, taking Going-to-the-Sun Road (named after the mountain, “Going-to-the-Sun” over the continental divide.
Glacier National Park

At the Divide, the forest service has a visitor's center staffed by a park ranger, who was giving a presentation. Amazingly, it was snowing on us up there in August!

Glacier National Park

There was a front coming through the day we drove through. Deb's dad chuckled that our views would not be very good due to the weather. I thought the clouds gave a really dramatic look to the peaks.

Glacier National Park


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