December 14, 2010

For a National Park Demoted, a Second Chance

I did not know that national parks were ever un-made, but it happened in Oklahoma in 1976, when the Platt National Park was demoted for lacking "scenic grandeur."
What started as local boosterism of hydrotherapy in cold mineral springs grew into one of America's most visited national parks by the 1920s. Despite its popularity, Platt lacked both scenic grandeur and political influence; it did not fit prevailing images of wild nature among NPS bureaucrats and the urban elite who formed the core of the environmental movement; it was too small, too humanized, and too ordinary. As images of people embedded in nature have gained wider acceptance in recent decades, would this small, geographically distinctive, and culturally rich “park of the people” have met a similar fate today?
It was added to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area but still considered noteworthy for its numerous examples of Civilian Conservation Corps "parkitecture." Now it is being recommended by a Park Service advisory board for national landmark status.
Chickasaw National Recreation Area, a very popular national park (1.2 million recreational visits in 2009) has managed the former Platt National Park as an administrative unit called the Platt Historic District. An important element of Chickasaw's mission is to preserve and interpret the Platt Historic District's physical resources (including numerous mineral springs) and cultural-historical resources.

The importance of the latter was underscored when the Landmarks Committee of the National Park Service Advisory Board voted unanimously on November 4 to recommend that the original Platt National Park portion of Chickasaw National Recreation Area be designated a National Historic Landmark (NHL).

Yep, Ken Burns missed that one.

(You're right: I am copying New York Times headlinese, just for the helluvit.)

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