America's first century of marine national park stewardship

Last modified: 
November 3, 2017 - 4:10pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2017
Date published: 01/2017
Authors: Gary Davis, Dan Kimball
Journal title: Earth Sciences History
Volume: 36
Issue: 2
Pages: 286 - 317
ISSN: 0736-623X

A review of coastal national park stewardship reveals a rich history that provides evidence of how nature and human history shaped current conditions along America's coasts. Case studies of Dry Tortugas National Park and Everglades National Park in Florida, and Channel Islands National Park in California exemplify how such experiences can help identify future directions and challenges for protecting coastal areas. Discoveries include (1) ecological and political borders are often incompatible because shorelines are ineffective ecological boundaries, (2) scales of protection are critical for management efficacy, (3) forging effective management solutions requires strategic, innovative public involvement, and (4) misperceptions of connectivity, sustainability, and relevance impair effective coastal conservation. This history and these stewardship experiences also demonstrated the potential power of protected areas to halt shifting ecological and moral baselines, thereby defining realistic imagination and hope for the future. Learning from national park experiences how to understand ecosystems, how to repair damage to their integrity, how to protect and mitigate human stresses to them, and how to better connect people to these special places has not only improved the condition of nature and human heritage in parks, but also has enhanced society's capacity to improve the human condition more broadly with small, but critical success stories.

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