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Repairing Paradise

Repairing Paradise: The Restoration of Nature in America's National Parks

WILLIAM R. LOWRY
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 287
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt6wpg88
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  • Book Info
    Repairing Paradise
    Book Description:

    By the turn of the millennium, it had become painfully apparent that the United States had made some serious misjudgments in its interactions with the natural world. The country's treasured national parks, while remaining immensely popular tourist destinations, were not immune to the damage. Preservation alone would no longer be enough; by this time, repair and restoration were necessary.

    Can the United States reverse the mistaken policies that severely damaged the crown jewels of its national park system? This thoughtful and hopeful book, in turns analytical and personal, investigates that critical question by focusing on four of America's most-loved public paces. InRepairing Paradise, William Lowry, an eminent expert on U.S. natural resource policy, details and assesses four ambitious efforts to reverse environmental damage in the national parks:

    • The reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone

    • Reducing the impact of vehicle traffic in Yosemite

    • Restoring fresh water to the Everglades

    • Removing structural impairments to river flows in the Grand Canyon

    Repairing Paradisecombines authoritative research with extensive personal experience. Lowry has spent time in all four of the parks -observing conditions, talking to the most informed decisionmakers, and taking photos. He deftly combines his field research with solid public policy analysis to paint an instructive portrait of the mission to restore the natural health and glory of some of the world's most wondrous places.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-0392-1
    Subjects: Environmental Science, Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (pp. ix-xi)
  4. 1 CHANGING POLICIES IN NATIONAL PARKS (pp. 1-17)

    The overarching theme of U.S. politics today is change. As suggested by the opening quote, which comes from Barack Obama’s speech accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, Obama built his campaign on that theme. Not to be outdone, his opponent, John McCain, countered Obama’s slogan, “Change you can believe in,” with “Change you can trust.”¹ But as the famous quote from former President Wilson warns—and as President Obama is now fully aware—significant change does not come easily. How, then, does it occur?

    Natural resource management is one area in which policymakers have sought to make significant changes....

  5. 2 REINTRODUCING WOLVES AT YELLOWSTONE (pp. 19-61)

    Like nearly everyone else at the campground, I was camping at Pebble Creek for a specific reason. The reason was not the scenery, although Pebble Creek is a pretty spot, with its namesake brook bubbling down the hillside behind the campground to feed into the Lamar River in the valley below. Nor was the reason the amenities. The campground is rustic, complete with pit toilets, and showers are available only when it rains. Nor did I come to enjoy a long, peaceful night’s sleep, since nearly everyone in camp stays up well past sunset and gets up well before sunrise....

  6. 3 REDUCING AUTOMOBILE IMPACTS AT YOSEMITE (pp. 63-105)

    Every day in Yosemite invigorates the senses. On a quiet day, you can hear the sound of the cold, clear water bubbling in the creeks and the Merced River crashing over the rocks. The scent of the ponderosa pines is everywhere, especially noticeable in the early morning when the trees are just being awakened by the sun. As for the sights, Teddy Roosevelt once called the mile-wide, seven-mile-long Yosemite Valley, with its stunning combination of granite cliffs, waterfalls, and meadows, “the most beautiful place in the world.”¹ Many other people agree. Having worked there and visited in all four seasons,...

  7. 4 RESTORING WATER TO THE EVERGLADES (pp. 107-155)

    Our canoe bounced in the choppy waves at the point where Indian Key Pass meets the Gulf of Mexico. The trip out had not been difficult, other than a bit of a fight with the rising tide just after we launched in the morning and the need to maneuver to avoid getting swamped by the occasional passing speedboat. But now the afternoon clouds had turned into fog and our visibility was diminishing. As anyone who has canoed in the Everglades knows, it can be a challenge to try to identify individual keys—islands consisting largely of mangrove stands—from the...

  8. 5 REMOVING IMPEDIMENTS TO RIVER FLOWS AT THE GRAND CANYON (pp. 157-203)

    For a rafter running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, the most important thing to know is that the Glen Canyon Dam upstream controls the water. So, just as you have to pay attention to the tides if you want to canoe in the Everglades, you have to keep track of how much water is being released from the dam if you want to raft in the Grand Canyon. As the dam operators release water to increase hydroelectric power—generally twice a day, to accommodate surges in demand in the morning and evening—the water travels downriver in what...

  9. 6 REPAIRING DAMAGE FROM PAST POLICIES (pp. 205-226)

    Given that the United States is a country that was established through revolution, a quintessentially radical act, the fact that making substantial changes to government policy is so difficult seems somewhat ironic. Indeed, many proposals for change are met with derision if not open hostility. Although human beings typically become accustomed to the status quo and are slow to embrace change, human beings also make mistakes. Consequently, they’re often stuck with policies that, while they may have made sense at some time, no longer do. And perhaps the ultimate test for democratic governments, as the opening quote from two prominent...

  10. APPENDIX: PARTIAL LIST OF INTERVIEWEES (pp. 227-228)
  11. NOTES (pp. 229-272)
  12. INDEX (pp. 273-287)
  13. Back Matter (pp. 288-288)