Do National Parks Have a Role in an Agrarian Future?

Do National Parks Have a Role in an Agrarian Future?

A few years ago I listened in on a conversation with poet, novelist, and essayist Wendell Berry, introduced that day as “without question the leading agrarian of our time.” He suggested a definition of this term agrarian as a “love for farming” that includes an inclination to put land first as our highest value. “Access to land,” Berry surmised, “provides…

Labor that Built the Parks

Labor that Built the Parks

When Depression settled over the once-robust American economy in the 1930s, young men found work building American park infrastructure and engaging in a variety of conservation projects undertaken by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The program developed from an idea that had been around for a while, and it became one of the first relief programs instituted shortly after Franklin…

The First National Park? Maybe Not What You Thought

The First National Park? Maybe Not What You Thought

Journalists and many historians like to say that Yellowstone reigns as America’s, indeed the world’s, first national park. Yellowstone’s standing as originator of national parks, though, comes with some contingency. At least two parks came before Yellowstone, an easily ignored fact that sometimes shows up as a footnote in the accounts of more astute historians. Yosemite National Park, more widely…

100 Years of the National Park Service

100 Years of the National Park Service

Happy centennial day for the National Park Service! On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson took up his pen and made official the National Park Service Organic Act. To be clear, Wilson’s autograph did not originate our national parks system. That distinction goes to the establishment of Yellowstone in 1872, or to federal protection of Yosemite in 1864, or to…

Moonset on the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Moonset on the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

The full moon sets into a penumbral eclipse, sinking into the tree-lined ridge with spidery fingers of arboreal silhouettes etched across the lunar surface. Meanwhile, early commuters in the valley below sip steaming coffee and steer into another day of meetings, dealings, opportunities and confrontations, oblivious to the celestial spectacle along the ridgetop. ♨

Magpie on a post

Magpie on a post

A black-billed magpie crosses the barbed boundaries of a wire fence to defend its winged playfulness in a big sky landscape. Perched upon a wooden post, it scouts its next move. More elegant than its cousin crow, the black-and-white formalwear of the magpie obscures its irreverent posturing above the sagebrush plain. ♨