By Terry Tem­pest Wil­liams; Far­rar, Straus and Giroux; 395 pages

Pasatiempo - - IN OTHER WORDS - Parks: Amer­ica’s Best Idea, The Na­tional

This Au­gust marked the Na­tional Park Ser­vice’s 100th birth­day. Among sev­eral cel­e­bra­tory events, nat­u­ral­iza­tion cer­e­monies were held in seven na­tional parks, in­clud­ing one at the Grand Canyon. In a 1903 speech there, Theodore Roo­sevelt said: “I was de­lighted to learn of the wis­dom of the Santa Fe rail­road peo­ple in de­cid­ing not to build their ho­tel on the brink of the canyon. I hope you will not have a build­ing of any kind — not a sum­mer cot­tage, a ho­tel, or any­thing else — to mar the won­der­ful grandeur, the sub­lim­ity, the great lone­li­ness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You can not im­prove on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.” Dur­ing his pres­i­dency, Roo­sevelt es­tab­lished over 200 mil­lion acres of public lands, in­clud­ing 18 na­tional mon­u­ments. Thir­teen years af­ter that speech, in 1916, Pres­i­dent Woodrow Wil­son signed an act cre­at­ing the Na­tional Park Ser­vice — the of­fi­cial stew­ard of our coun­try’s parks and mon­u­ments. The or­ga­ni­za­tion not only pro­tects what are ar­guably the na­tion’s great­est trea­sures, but also en­sures that we en­joy their beauty and do not tar­nish it.

In her mem­oir-like book, The Hour of Land: A Per­sonal To­pog­ra­phy of Amer­ica’s Na­tional Parks, Terry Tem­pest Wil­liams, who was fea­tured mem­o­rably in Ken Burns’ 2009 doc­u­men­tary se­ries,

writes about her ex­pe­ri­ence

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