On the National Parks Traveler website, a former park superintendent discusses some interesting issues about the parks that were not covered in Ken Burns’s fine TV documentary aired this past fall. Read his post.
I agree with much of what Rick Smith says. However, he couldn’t begin to cover national parks from all angles even in the twelve hours allotted for the episodes. Burns’s emphasis was history and the contributions of people who aided the parks’ creation, and he covered those aspects very well.
There is a small fallacy in former superintendent Smith’s paragraph about other countries reserving protected areas. He writes:
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature reports that there are now over 100,000 established protected areas in the world, not all of them national parks, of course, but all established to preserve and protect natural and cultural resources. These areas cover approximately 11.63% of the world’s terrestrial and marine areas. Yellowstone was the first such area created in the world. . . .
If you include all types of national reserves such as national monuments and seashores, Yellowstone was not the first area protected and set aside. Back in 1832, the Hot Springs Reservation in Arkansas was created by Congress, granting federal protection of the thermal waters. Yellowstone (established in 1872) was the first to be called a national park.