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Atlantic Monthly, 1967

Atlantic Monthly, Feb 1967, p. 87 - Brooks, Paul, "The Fight For America's Alps"

"Often referred to as the American Alps, the Cascades are the wildest, most rugged, and probably most beautiful mountains in the United States south of Alaska. They are also the least known. Until recently, their inaccessibility has been their salvation. That time is past." The author outlines the history of the Park Service-Forest Service feud and of proposals for a North Cascades national park. He observes that the character of the contest has changed in the last fifty years, as America has changed, with a growing concern for preserving wilderness for its aesthetic or spiritual qualities. Edward C. Crafts, chairman of the North Cascades study team, said: "I know of nothing that I have been involved in in my 32 years experience that has been more controversial up to this point and I think the controversy is probably only beginning."

The author describes the tendency of the Forest Service "to accommodate itself to the interest groups whose activities it was supposed to regulate" -- that is, the lumber industry. He writes that the "multiple use" policy has proven to be just a slogan. "There is no virtue in multiplicity unless the 'uses' are mutually compatible. The New York Times is not promoted on the grounds that in addition to being read it can also be used for lighting fires and for wrapping fish. Logging and scenery do not go together, even when one is instructed to lift one's eyes from the desecration at hand to the snowy peaks on the horizon."

The author also describes criticism by conservationists of the Park Service for encouraging over-development and overuse of the parks. Yet he concludes, "Those who love this country as it now is realize that the worst the Forest Service can do is incomparably worse than the worst the Park Service can do. [...] They trust that the [Park] Service will have the courage and the foresight to produce a plan for a true wilderness park. If it does, there is still hope for the American Alps and for the other priceless remnants of wild America."

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