Parks and people: Past, present, and future
In our search for personal growth and a better understanding of American heritage, national parks facilitate transformative experiences. They blend aspects of inspiration, discovery, challenge, recreation, and education as we seek to define and celebrate ourselves and our national identity. The parks are there for us to experience, learn from, and enjoy.
Another important role for national parks is emerging. Increasingly parks are being recognized as places with great potential to enhance public health, especially at a time when stress, poor nutritional choices, and a lack of physical activity are contributing to widespread health problems. Concern for public health is galvanizing a movement among scholars, health professionals, business and nonprofit leaders, and park managers to work together in order to engage the public to a greater degree in discovering the healthful benefits of national (and all) parks.
In this issue of Park Science we highlight this idea in a brief series of articles that explores the science behind these perceptions and the implications for resource management. Several national parks have begun to develop and market their health values for exercise, free play, and nutrition. The articles also discuss the compatibility of these goals with the need for natural and cultural resource stewardship.
We also feature a section on recent archeological research in national parks. The authors describe the evolution and application of archeological techniques, particularly the integration of various data sets, that are increasing our knowledge of past park inhabitants.
Centuries from now a historian or archeologist studying a national park will find a photograph, letter, or notated brochure. Along with other information, the relic will paint a picture of 21st-century people who loved their national parks and how the parks helped fulfill a variety of societal needs. The story of people and their parks is continuous and science is a tool that helps us to write the next chapter.
—Jeff Selleck, Editor
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This page updated:
14 January 2014
Suggested citation for this article:
Selleck, J. 2013. Parks and people: Past, present, and future. Park Science 30(2):2.
Available at http://www.nature.nps.gov/ParkScience/archive/PDF/Article_PDFs/ParkScience30(2)Fall2013_2_Editorial_3656.pdf.
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