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The national park is the best idea America ever had

“It’s a reminder that despite the fact that the country seems to be very nearly coming apart at the seams, there is still much to recommend it — namely, its spectacular beauty. When it comes to protected public lands, there are none better than America’s.

Ours is a boastful nation, prone to ridiculous exaggeration of our own innovativeness. Too often, it’s empty wind. In a great many areas — like our disastrously inefficient medical system, or our pathetic passenger rail — we’re still far behind where Europe was 50-80 years ago. Heck, we can’t even match Romania at internet speed — and that was developed here a mere generation back!

But national parks are unquestionably an American development. Pushed by American writers and activists, we established the first one in 1872: Yellowstone National Park. This served as a model around the world, from Australia to South Africa to Costa Rica. As Wallace Stegner once wrote, national parks might fairly be called ‘the best idea we ever had.’”

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