The National Parks of the West are among America’s greatest
treasures. Great Lodges of the West reminds us that these
scenic wonderlands, best known for their mountains, canyons,
geysers and waterfalls, are also dotted with brick-and-board
evidence of our nation’s history.
Glacier National Park, to cite a single example, is home
to more than 300 historic structures. Many of them are in
serious peril…The famous Many Glacier Hotel, featured in this
book, is still in service at present, but it (could be closed)
in the near future unless extensive structural repairs are
made. The cost of restoring these buildings is estimated in
the millions of dollars.
Glacier represents only the tip of the iceberg. In the western
United States the National Park Service (NPS) is responsible
for 5,000 historic structures in its sprawling region, yet
the region’s annual preservation budget is grossly inadequate
$1.5 million…Historic structures are not receiving adequate
maintenance, and once they begin to fail, funds for repair
and restoration are too often unavailable.
The President and Congress are considering a variety of ways---ranging
from raising entrance fees to forging partnerships with private-sector
individuals and business community---to bring new capital
into the parks. Whatever funding mechanisms are employed,
it is imperative that the needs of historic resources be addressed
on an equal footing with demands for natural resource protection,
trail maintenance and wildlife habitat. What is needed is
a dedicated fund for maintenance of historic structures in
the National Park system.
Now, before it’s too late, is the time for all of us to let
it be known that the cultural heritage embodied in our National
Parks is worth whatever it takes to save it.
To lose these buildings is to lose a part of the American
National Trust for Historic Preservation