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Uncertain Path

Uncertain Path: A Search for the Future of National Parks, Foreword by Jonathan B. Jarvis, Director, National Park Service

William C. Tweed
With a foreword by Jonathan B. Jarvis
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Uncertain Path
    Book Description:

    In this provocative walking meditation, writer and former park ranger William Tweed takes us to California’s spectacular High Sierra to discover a new vision for our national parks as they approach their 100th anniversary. Tweed, who worked among the Sierra Nevada’s big peaks and big trees for more than thirty years, has now hiked more than 200 miles along California’s John Muir Trail in a personal search for answers: How do we address the climate change we are seeing even now—in melting glaciers in Glacier National Park, changing rainy seasons on Mt Rainer, and more fire in the West’s iconic parks. Should we intervene where we can to preserve biodiversity? Should the parks merely become ecosystem museums that exhibit famous landscapes and species? Asking how we can make these magnificent parks relevant for the next generation, Tweed, through his journey, ultimately shows why we must do just that.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94730-6
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Jonathan B. Jarvis

    In the complex world of natural resource preservation, asking the right questions is the first step, and author William Tweed has done this well in the pages that follow. Like the iconic John Muir, Tweed hiked the High Sierra of California and found that the “very stones seem talkative and brotherly.” Tweed listened closely. His hearing refined by a lifetime of National Park Service experience as a writer and interpreter, he heard a disturbing undercurrent in the voice of the wilderness. His trek through the forests, and his evenings under an inverted bowl of stars, allowed him to ponder the...

  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    This book explores the history, current status, and likely future of the ideas that underlie and define our national parks. In the pages that follow, I outline why the national park idea as we know it, a veritable covenant between national park managers and the American public, is collapsing and will need to be redrawn.

    The book came into being as a personal attempt to reconcile what I believe to be a growing contradiction between several intellectual traditions. History, the discipline in which I was trained long ago, teaches the inescapability of change; national parks, the world in which I...

  5. ONE South from Yosemite
    (pp. 5-52)

    I may be surrounded by wilderness, but the line of cars in front of me stands nearly as motionless as the scenery. One hundred yards ahead, on the exact crest of the Sierra Nevada, a guide from a large tour bus is negotiating business details with a park ranger who occupies a small wooden toll station in the middle of the highway. The rest of us wait. We ignore the scenery. Instead, we watch the bus, looking for some sign that it has finished its business and is ready to move on into Yosemite National Park. Exhaust fumes from a...

  6. TWO Kings Canyon National Park
    (pp. 53-118)

    Lloyd insists on sending us off with a hot breakfast, so we feast on eggs, sausage, and pancakes in Lloyd’s pine-paneled upstairs apartment. After dining, we finish packing. I go through my pack one last time, still searching for more weight to discard. When I’m done, despite second thoughts, I still have several luxuries, including my teapot. I will continue to carry a heavy pack, and I can blame no one but myself.

    The morning passes quickly. The trail follows the river up the broad canyon of the San Joaquin, and as we walk Armando and I catch up on...

  7. THREE Sequoia National Park
    (pp. 119-182)

    Monday morning—Labor Day—and I’m climbing back toward Kearsarge Pass on the same trail I walked out on just thirty-six hours ago. I’m alone once again. Armando has returned to his other life, and my short stay in civilization has come to an end. Ahead of me stretches eighty miles of trail through the backcountry heart of Sequoia National Park. I enjoyed walking with Armando for ten days, but now I’m ready to spend some time by myself. I have a lot to think about, many questions about this world of national parks yet to resolve.

    As I climb...

  8. FOUR National Parks in the Twenty-first Century
    (pp. 183-208)

    I set out to walk the familiar trails of the Sierra Nevada in order to seek fresh insights into the increasing divergence I sensed between the mainstream explanations of what national parks and wilderness promise and a new and more somber reality. As I walked, I found even more to worry about. By almost any measure, the world is becoming ever more challenging for our traditional national parks and the resources they promise to preserve forever.

    Little that I discovered can be considered completely new. A substantial technical literature focuses on the scientific and philosophical problems that challenge the future...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 209-214)
    (pp. 215-220)
    (pp. 221-224)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 225-236)