NOVEMBER 15, 1947
NEW YORK, Friday—Anyone who has ever taken a trip to some of our national parks cannot fail to recognize their value to our nation. In the first place, they preserve areas of timberland which are important to our water supply. They give protection to wildlife of all kinds. And they furnish a vacation land for people of this country such as is not found in other parts of the world.
Their educational value is great, particularly for our young people, since here they have an opportunity to learn so much from trained men who understand the need for youth to know something of nature. For all of us, young and old, getting back to untouched natural beauty and enjoying the out of doors gives us strength for the rest of the year. Many of us from crowded cities find this almost essential.
Over the years, the National Parks Association has been drawing together the people who appreciate all these phases of our national parks system, and it has led in the defense of this system wherever personal interests have sought to destroy it. On June 20, 1947, after years of struggle to save the Everglades of Florida, that area became a national park. But where we count one victory, we find ourselves with attacks on the system coming from many sides.
Seven bills are before Congress, having as a purpose removal of the greater part of the "rain forests" from the Olympic National Park in the state of Washington. Of course, these bills are promoted by local lumber interests, and very tempting reasons are given as to why this should be done. The basic reason against it is that it would set a precedent for allowing loggers to take over portions of our primeval forests in other park areas. We have too few of these left. Proper care, of course, should be taken to guard all of these forests and to develop them, but commercial interests are not the ones to entrust with this care.
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In the West, there is ever-increasing pressure brought by livestock interests to take over land now administered under our conservation policy. Specifically, there is an attempt to abolish the Jackson Hole National Monument, which is the scenic wildlife area near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. The aim is first to turn such lands over to the states, and then pressure would be brought upon the states to turn them over to the stock men. The attack is made on national forests, national parks and monuments and grazing lands. If successful, it would set back our whole conservation gains made in the past decade.
These attacks on conservation are very shortsighted. The very interests who believe they would gain would lose in the end. But conservation is no different from any other situation in which personal interests are involved. As individuals we are so apt to see only the immediate results and not to realize what will happen to us in the long run.
In a wider field this is the way many of us look on the rehabilitation program for war-torn countries. If our farmers can get a bigger price for wheat at the moment through a program to feed Europe instead of rehabilitating countries so they can feed themselves, our farm associations are apt to be against the shipping of farm machinery or fertilizer or seed, and to want to keep these things for themselves so that they can make a greater temporary profit. Again a shortsighted point of view, for in the end a Europe or an Asia that can buy from us will be of more value to our farmers than one that must receive relief from us.