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Saturday Morning Reading


    Yet another viewpoint of the Skywalk that juts over a side canyon of the Grand Canyon is in the news today, with an overview provided by The New York Times' Edward Rothstein.
    The piece is much like others that have been written, saying the experience is an over-hyped, over-priced one. But Mr. Rothstein adds an interesting comparison between how the Hualapai tribe approaches stewardship of the Grand Canyon and how the National Park Service does.
    In fact, look more closely at Grand Canyon West, and it is as if the roles of the United States government and the Indian tribes had been inverted or exchanged. The Park Service takes an almost sacred view of the canyon landscape, as if drawing on an imagined Indian conception of the land, striving to protect it from encroaching pressures, noise and commerce brought by nearly five million annual visitors. The Park Service does not permit anything resembling the Hualapai Hummer off-road tours; it has banned helicopter flights below the canyon’s rim, like the ones the Hualapai offer. And it would not permit a permanent horseshoe of steel and glass to protrude into the canyon, writes Mr. Rothstein.
    I also found interesting an essay by professional photographer David A. Murray, who penned an article on how the folks at Denali National Park manage to keep their park largely untrampled by visitors.
    In 1972, the Denali Park Rangers and the National Park Service implemented a unique approach to visitors enjoying Denali National Park. This system revolves around a visitor transportation program designed to minimize impact on the park's habitat and wildlife. The core of the transportation system was initially a fleet of park-owned buses.  These buses are your typical no frills school bus style buses, writes Mr. Murray in a column titled, The Impact of Impact.
    Yet while he applauds Denali officials for managing impact, Mr. Murray also scolds them a bit for letting a private company take over the bus system and, in the process, making it more costly for visitors.
    These buses cater, like the cruise industry, to the wealthy tourist; most of the new buses are equipped with creature comforts, such as air-conditioning and reclining seats. Nice, but expensive ticket prices were the result. A few of the old park buses still operate, but it is only a matter of time - as they become unfit to operate they are no longer replaced. The real negative here is that now the private bus company, in my opinion, dictates policy to the park, he writes.
    Two interesting stories worth reading.

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