This is an essay I wrote for the Nat Parks Conservation Assn. I actually got carried away and wrote 2 of them (with attached images) I'll post the other one tomorrow.
In 1916 the US Congress created the National Park Service with a mandate to; "conserve the scenery and natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of same in such a manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." It would have been simpler for them to just say; "save it for the artists." Keep it for those who will remind us what America is all about when we forget. Creating the Artist in Residence Program in the National Parks must have been America's second best idea. Artists were integral in selling the NPS idea to the public and congress back in 1916. Today the artist advocate and interpreter has a similarly vital role in reintroducing us to our wilderness heritage as pressures of expansion, commercialism and climate change push against the NPS mandate to conserve, protect and leave unimpaired. It is the blessing and burden of artists' to remind people that they don't have far to go to find the sublime landscape. A National Park near you is a good place to start. The nooks and crannies of paradise are waiting to be rediscovered by the artist in us all.