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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Comparison of national parks policy in Canada and the United States. Turner, R. David

Abstract

The history and development of National Park Systems in Canada and the United States are traced over the last 120 years, and the policies determining their management are examined and compared to identify basic similarities and differences. Official government reports and policy statements, historical records, and pertinent books, articles, and bulletins were used as references for the study. Emphasis is placed on recent history and existing policies. It is concluded that the philosophies governing National Parks policy have been, and still are, significantly different, and as a result, the National Park Systems of the two countries differ both physically and conceptually. United States policy has traditionally reflected a greater public and administrative concern for the protection of natural environments within the National Parks. As a result, attempts are being made to reduce the purely recreational character of the National Parks, and to divert the recreationists to other types of areas, such as National Recreation Areas and National Seashores. In recent years, concerted attempts to alienate areas within the parks have been defeated, primarily through the existence of a strong preservationist movement in the country. The establishment of the National Wilderness Preservation System demonstrates a widespread recognition of natural area preservation as a nationally significant land use. In Canada, National Parks policy has been much less concerned with nature preservation and protection. The provision of public recreation has gradually become the dominant theme of Canadian National Parks policy, with concern for natural areas only recently emerging. No widespread preservationist philosophy has existed in Canada. Despite Canada's lower population, recreation facilities and accommodations in the parks are generally more elaborate and extensive than in the United States. In general terms, the thrust of policy in Canada has been to preserve a quasi-natural setting for enjoying recreational activities, while in the United States, policy has been directed towards preserving and maintaining natural environments.

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