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