Caitlin Brown is a 3L at Berkeley Law and Co-Editor in Chief of Ecology Law Quarterly. This post is part of the Environmental Law Review Syndicate (ELRS). Please post all comments on the original post, which may be found on Ecology Law Quarterly's Website.
The National Park Service manages over 84 million acres of land divided between 413 different sites, and in 2015 alone, served 307.2 million visitors. Their management goals are based on the 1916 National Park Service Organic Act (“the Act”). Section 1 of the Act defines the Park Service’s purpose as “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” How are conservation and impairment from section 1 of the Act defined in the legislative history? How did these concepts originally enter the legislation, and what did Congress think the implications of the standards were? Professor Eric Biber of Berkeley Law posed these questions to me to assist with his research for an article he wrote with Elisabeth Long Esposito, The National Park Service Organic Act and Climate Change. Given that 2016 is the centennial of the National Park Service’s founding by the Organic Act, a deep dive into the legislative history of the National Park Service seemed timely.