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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wayne Hamilton: Voices Speak Out for the Grand Canyon Plastic Bottle Ban

Voices Speak Out for the Grand Canyon Plastic Bottle Ban: Wayne Hamilton, Ph.D.

by Jess Leber,, November 17, 2011

Hundreds of people around the U.S. have joined Stiv Wilson's petition on asking the National Park Service to re-instate its plastic bottle ban in the Grand Canyon. Signers are worried about the effects of plastic litter and pollution, and want the National Park Service to protect the beauty and wildlife of the Grand Canyon, one of America's greatest natural treasures. They are also angered that corporate interests, namely Coca-Cola's desire to keep making profits on bottled water, could take precedent over the public's interest in doing what's best for the park. Below is a statement from one petition signer we'd like to highlight. You can see many others by looking at the petition.
Wayne L. Hamilton, PhD. served America's national parks for more than two decades, as a research scientist at Yellowstone National Park and as a ranger at Zion National Park, among other positions. Since retiring from the Park Service in 1996, Wayne has worked as a research scientist in Baja California. His father, Warren M. Hamilton, was a Grand Canyon National Park Ranger between 1933 and 1940, and served as Superintendent of Everglades National Park and Zion National Park, and as the National Park Service's Western Regional Director.
Post by Wayne L. Hamilton:
"I was privileged to have grown up in a National Park Service family with full exposure to the natural wonders of several parks. That was at a time when the Director of the Service knew the names of all 'his' Superintendents' children, so I remember a picnic where Horace Albright once said to me 'hello Wayne.'
Considerably later, and after a good start in a university research and teaching career, in 1974, I resigned and went to work for the Park Service because I thought it might be a better venue for reaching out to the public on issues of importance in the natural sciences and to our survival on an overcrowded planet.
In the mid-70s environmental awareness was on the rise and uniformed park naturalists began talking openly with the public about the need to take better care of our Earth. Then, in 1977, the Washington Office of the Service sent out word that this practice was no longer welcome. We were told that people didn't like being 'preached' to. Gosh, we hadn't heard that complaint!
The 1977 reversal may be explained thus. The National Park Service serves two entities in our country: the public and the Congress. Most people admire what the Service does. The role of Congress is to provide appropriations for operation of the parks, and that relationship gives Congress a large say in how the Service conducts its business. It's not commonly known, but Parks are also a major vacation destination for members of Congress and their corporate friends. Only they don't usually take the tours available to the public.
I knew Steve Martin, the Superintendent of Grand Canyon, when I was a research scientist in Yellowstone and he was a ranger there. He made the right decision to ban disposable water bottles at Grand Canyon as had been done earlier at Zion National Park. It seems pretty clear to me that Director Jon Jarvis's reversal of Steve's decision can be traced directly back to ...if not the Coca Cola company directly, at least to Coke's friends in Congress who hold the Service purse strings."
You can join Wayne and hundreds of others by signing Stiv Wilson's petition today.
Jess Leber is a editor. She most recently covered climate and energy issues as a reporter in Washington, D.C.

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