Sustainable Transportation in Parks: What an idea!
The headline gets right to the point: "Sustainable focus for National Park Transport."
Within the body of the story is this ear-grabbing quote: "Well-designed transport schemes in national parks are good news for the environment, as well as for the hundreds of people who visit the parks every day."
OK, the part about "hundreds of people" visiting parks every day is a red flag that this story didn't originate in the United States, where tens of thousands of people, if not more, visit parks every day. But the message being trumpeted by United Kingdom officials should be embraced by their U.S. counterparts.
"With more and more people visiting national parks in England and Wales, it is important to encourage transport and traffic management schemes which successfully balance the twin purposes of the parks -- safeguarding their sensitive environments whilst providing opportunities for recreation and enjoyment," says Jim Knight, UK's rural affairs minister.
There are many U.S. parks that could benefit from well-conceived transportation plans. The Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, and Yosemite come immediately to mind, but you could quickly toss Arches, parts of Mount Rainier, and Glacier into the mix.
Progress is being made -- Zion National Park's shuttle system is fantastic, the one in Bryce Canyon a step in the right direction, and the one at Acadia National Park wonderful.
At the same time, there are other parks, such as Yellowstone with its five entrances, and Olympic, with its lengthy rope of highway that encircles the park, where planners will indeed be challenged to come up with sensible and sustainable transit plans.
But in the name of clean air, less congestion and a gentler touch on national park landscapes, we shouldn't give up searching for solutions.
Knight's comments last week came on the heels of the release of a set of guidelines for sustainable transportation in the United Kingdom's national parks. The guide points to ways in which transportation in the parks has been made more sustainable and examines solutions to rural transportation issues.
"Other local authorities can learn from these examples and are encouraged to develop similar projects to apply in their own areas," says Knight.
Think we could get him to mail a copy to Washington?