Evolving Values and How They Have Shaped the United States National Park System

Cari Goetcheus a*, Nora J. Mitchell b and Brenda Barrett c

a College of Environment and Design, University of Georgia, Athens, United States
b Historic Preservation Program, History Department, University of Vermont, Woodstock, United States

c Living Landscape Observer, Harrisburg, United States
* Corresponding author: cgoetch@uga.edu


ABSTRACT  As one of the oldest and best-known park systems, the U.S. National Park System continues to influence park systems around the world. However, the origins and wide diversity of U.S. national parks are often not fully understood as there is a long-lived misconception that the large western parks represent the entirety of the U.S. National Park System. In fact, the establishment of the first U.S. national parks was heavily influenced by large 19th-century picturesque urban parks that provided benefits to the public and society. The foundational concept of national parks serving a public purpose has never changed, however, the types of landscapes selected as national parks have changed as societal values have evolved and now the system provides public benefits beyond those originally envisioned. This paper examines the development of the U.S. National Park System, emphasising the evolution of landscape values. The emergence of the cultural landscape concept illustrates the evolution of landscape values from their early antecedents in the late 19th century to their contributions to innovative conservation strategies today. Throughout the development of the U.S. National Park System, international exchange has and continues to play a pivotal role, advancing the inter-linkages of culture and nature for the most effective conservation.

KEYWORDS  U.S. National Park Service, U.S. National Park System, cultural landscape, landscape values, interlinkages
of culture-nature

Received July 23, 2018; accepted August 14, 2018.

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World Heritage Institute of Training and Research for the Asia and the Pacific Region under the Auspices of UNESCO (WHITRAP)
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