Preserving Our National Parks

Washington Woman
Monday, April 20, 2009

By Alicia Brewster

As someone who grew up in the heart of the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania, I am all too familiar with the daunting task of maintaining and conserving our forests and national parks. Many suffer from a lack of resources and manpower. However, one organization-the Student Conservation Association (SCA)-has been working tirelessly since 1957 to make sure our national treasures are with us for generations to come.

Elizabeth Cushman Titus Putnam developed the concept for SCA in her senior thesis at Vassar College in 1955. “I read an article by Bernard DeVoto in October 1953 in Harper’s Magazine entitled ‘Let’s Close Our National Parks.’ He argued that our parks were being loved to death. They were overrun and undermanned, and in order to protect the parks from people and people from the parks, he suggested closing Yellowstone and other national parks,” Putnam explains. But she saw another solution, believing that volunteers could help. “I wanted to explore a concept like a modern-day CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps]. I believed we could help the parks and also benefit the participants. A lot of work needed to be done, and I felt there were a lot of young people at the time who were looking for opportunities for service,” she says. Continue Reading >>

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