ALASKA LAND ISSUES
NPS WAR ON RURAL LIFESTYLES


WILL THE NPS EVER ACCEPT THAT ANILCA PROVIDED FOR LOCAL RESIDENTS IN ALASKA'S PARKS?  These sources capture the essence of the problem.

Spring
2004

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A Land Gone Lonesome by Dan O'Neill -- How the NPS has all but eliminated rural subsistence lifestyles along the Yukon River in the Yukon - Charley National Preserve.

At Great Smokey Mountains National Park, the Park Service bought out six thousand six hundred private parties-many by using condemnation proceedings. Park managers moved assorted barns and buildings to the Mountain Farm Museum, where costumed interpreters now demonstrate hill-country life at the imitation farmstead. At Buffalo National River in Arkansas, the Park Service condemned and leveled many hundreds of homes; at Ozark Scenic Riverways in Missouri, the Park Service bulldozed the cabins along the river; at Big Bend National Park in Texas, they knocked down the ranchers cabins. And now they regret it.

At least some of the Park Service employees at Yukon-Charley are prepared for the same thing to happen in their park. The day is not so distant, they say, when all the river people will be gone from the river and the Park Service will put GS-5 summer hires in their cabins. They'll be drama majors from colleges in the States. They'll wear red flannel shirts and spit snoose. They'll hang a few fish so the floaters can see people living the old-time way. And come the first frost, they'll head back to school...

But these stories of the river people are their own kind of argument. They suggest that it is a thing of value when frontiersmen and -women are living out in the country--of value to the people themselves, as they grow in courage and competence; of value to the land, as their deep local knowledge informs our stewardship; of value to our culture, as their residency conserves nearly extinct pioneering ideals. For now, the land is lonesome by decree, artificially empty as if, to enshrine the trees, we banished the birds.

Review by Amanda Coyne (Anchorage Press) June 7 2006 

Congress mandated that subsistence lifestyles along the Yukon were to be protected and even encouraged. However, the complicated regulations adopted by the National Park Service, O'Neill writes, resulted in all but the complete elimination of such lifestyles. That, he maintains - and documents through interviews with past and present Park Service employees - was the objective all along. 

Review by LOUISE JARVIS FLYNN (NY Times) August 13, 2006

  


5/8/04




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NEIL DARISH - Anchorage Daily News [Op-Ed] - Let national park residents thrive - In the 1960s, conservationists considered man a threat to the wilderness. Old Park Service management philosophy marginalized or eliminated locals. New Park Service management ideas incorporate cultural assets, and some parks are "run with, for and, in some cases, by local people"...In Europe and much of the developing world, "living landscapes" and residents are embraced as an essential part of their national parks; and it has been that way for the last 50 years. America's Park Service still struggles with thriving cultures as a resource worthy of preservation...In the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio, there is fresh thinking about the notion of a "lived-in" park. The superintendent, John Debo, views continued occupancy, in certain circumstances, to contribute to the purposes for which the park was created. He uses the terminology "residents" and "partners" rather than "in-holders," the latter implying something to be eliminated...The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act enshrines Alaska's preservation of the cultural elements of remote living. The Park Service did not welcome private property in parks when Wrangell-St. Elias was formed. Congress created ANILCA to protect against the old Park Service management objective of eliminating all private land...The Park Service can become our hero if we as resident stewards are treated with respect by the Park Service -- here and in Washington, D.C...What is needed is a clear statement from our Park Service Alaska regional director that her philosophy allows the residents in this park to thrive.

For More Information Contact:
American Land Rights Association
Tel: 360-687-3087
FAX: 360-687-2973

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