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Opinion: No limits on visitors

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    There is nothing as awe-inspiring as a visit to one of our national parks. To stand on an Atlantic beach on Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park in
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6, 2007
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      There is nothing as awe-inspiring as a visit to one of our national parks. To stand on an Atlantic beach on Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park in Maine or gaze at the snow-capped peaks in Glacier National Park in Montana is an experience that all Americans ought to have the chance to enjoy.
      But that opportunity could be threatened by a lawsuit brought by a small California environmental group trying to halt construction projects around Yosemite National Park.
      The group says that future commercial development of the area would bring in more visitors to the park and threaten the ecosystem of the Merced River, which flows through the park. A federal judge sided with the group in November, halting the $60 million in construction.
      According to the Associated Press, the government is appealing the decision, out of fear that the ruling could force it to limit the number of visitors to Yosemite. That could create a precedent that might lead to limitations at other parks.
      Environmentalists have been concerned for years that the millions of people who visit our national parks each year are putting them under too much stress.
      Some park advocates would like to see all motorized vehicles banned from Yosemite and Yellowstone National Park and have visitors arrive by foot, canoe or horseback. But that would effectively ban many senior citizens and the handicapped from our national parks.
      We find it interesting that limiting visitors is being discussed at a time when attendance at all national parks has declined 5 percent since 1999.
      Perhaps other parks could follow the example of Zion National Park in Utah, where a shuttle bus system is operated throughout the park during the warm weather months to reduce traffic and parking hassles.
      We are opposed to limiting access to the parks. While we see the need to protect the ecosystems of our national parks, we also see the value in our parks being accessible to all our citizens. They should never become the preserves of a privileged few.
       


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