The Parks Belong to the People
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The Parks Belong to the People

The Geography of the National Park System

Title Details

Pages: 292

Illustrations: 83 color images

Trim size: 8.500in x 11.000in



Pub Date: 04/01/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6505-3

List Price: $44.95


Pub Date: 04/01/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6571-8

List Price: $44.95


Pub Date: 04/01/2024

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6572-5

List Price: $44.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Office of Research and Engagement at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro

The Parks Belong to the People

The Geography of the National Park System

A comprehensive geographic and historical look at America’s best idea”

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  • Description
  • Reviews

In examining the 424 units of the U.S. national park system, geographers Joe Weber and Selima Sultana focus attention on the historical geography of the system as well as its present distribution, covering the diversity of places under the control of the National Park Service (NPS). This includes the famous national parks such as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite and the lesser-known national monuments, memorials, lakeshores, seashores, rivers, recreation areas, preserves, reserves, parkways, historic sites, historic parks, and a range of battlefields, as well as more than twenty additional sites not fitting into any of these categories (such as the White House).

The geographic view of The Parks Belong to the People sets it apart from others that have taken a solely historical approach. Where parks are located, what they are near, where their visitors come from, and how land use and activities are organized within parks are some of the fundamental issues discussed. The majority of units in the NPS are devoted to recreation areas or historic sites such as battlefields, archaeological sites, or sites devoted to a specific person, and this is reflected in the authors’ approach.

What we think of as a national park has changed over the years and will continue to change. Weber and Sultana emphasize changing social and political environments in which NPS units were created and the roles they serve, such as protecting scenery, providing wildlife habitats, preserving history, and serving as scientific laboratories and places for outdoor recreation. The authors also focus on parks as public facilities and sites of economic activities. National parks were created by people for people to enjoy, at great cost and with great benefit. They cannot be understood without taking this human context into account.

Weber and Sultana's book pulls together a lot of established knowledge about the national parks and sets it down in one place, intelligently and systematically. I expect it will be a major go-to citation source for national park studies for a long time.

—Ronald Foresta, author of America's National Parks and Their Keepers

Weber and Sultana provide an impressive font of information about all aspects of the American national park system past, present, and future. Chapter 12 should be read by anyone pondering the future of America’s heritage. More than 75 maps demonstrate the power of geography in telling a story. The book will be a classic text for classes on public lands.

—Lary Dilsaver, editor of America’s National Park System: The Critical Documents

The Parks Belong to the People contains an enormous amount of information pertinent to the historical, political, economic, and cultural factors influencing the national park system in the United States. This wealth of information, along with the vast array of specific examples given to illustrate various points, makes this a valuable resource.

—Randall K. Wilson, author of America's Public Lands: From Yellowstone to Smokey Bear and Beyond

Weber and Sultana deftly invoke the geographic processes that shaped the U.S. national park system as a whole even as they give individual units their unique characteristics. Comprehensive and accessible, The Parks Belong to the People should be in the library of everyone who cares about America’s national parks.

—Terence Young, author of Heading Out: A History of American Camping

About the Author/Editor

Joe Weber (Author)
JOE WEBER is professor of geography at the University of Alabama. He is the author of Mapping Historical Las Vegas: A Cartographic Journey.

Selima Sultana (Author)
SELIMA SULTANA is professor and director of Graduate Studies of Geography at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Her work has appeared in leading journals including the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, The Professional Geographer, Journal of Transport Geography, Transport Policy, Tourism Geographies, Urban Geography, Urban Studies, Growth & Change, and Southeastern Geographer.