Record Number of visits to Yellowstone Park in 2009-
This has been in the news the last couple days. Rocky Barker blogged today about it, tying it to the recent popular PBS television film, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” Here is Barker’s blog in the Idaho Statesman. Americans flock to nation’s “best idea.”
My comment is that it’s true Americans love their national parks, except for a relative handful of anti-government types. I also know from experience in the field and teaching that most Americans are generally clueless about the rest of the public lands they own: national forests, national wildlife refuges, and, especially the BLM lands. Granted people will say, “Oh yes, the national forests, but it doesn’t come to mind quickly. This gives a great opportunity for special* interest groups to dominate how these other public lands are used. Lack of public knowledge makes hard to organize folks to defend what we might call “the public interest” in these matters.
Politicians and interest groups that have big plans for the public lands often try to smooth folks by saying “our plans in no way involve our wonderful national parks.” What they don’t say is their plans will affect maybe millions of acres of BLM lands.
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* As a political scientist I prefer the more neutral term “interest group, which simply means an organized group that seeks to have the government do (or not do) something over which it has jurisdiction.