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Spirituality and the StateManaging Nature and Experience in America's National Parks$
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Kerry Mitchell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781479886418

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479886418.001.0001

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Establishing National Parks

Establishing National Parks

From Ideal to Institution

(p.13) 1 Establishing National Parks
Spirituality and the State

Kerry Mitchell

NYU Press

This chapter examines the history of the national parks, tracing their origins to the preservation efforts of John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt. The establishment of national parks created a paradox: a desire for intimate, personal connection with wilderness that required public control and restriction. Wilderness needed to become public to remain private. Such an overlap between private experience and public interest persists at the core of the National Park service mission to this day. Visitors to national parks are meant to feel the freedom and enrichment of a personal encounter with nature as their public, national heritage. Through employing three paradigms - recreation, heritage, and systems - Park Service officials integrate private, individual encounter with nature into public, collective enterprises of national identity and state allegiance.

Keywords:   state allegiance, Park Service officials, John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, national park, public interest, national heritage, nature

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