Review: Uncertain Path: A Search for the Future of National Parks

By Hoover, Jeanne | Electronic Green Journal, Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

Review: Uncertain Path: A Search for the Future of National Parks


Hoover, Jeanne, Electronic Green Journal


Review: Uncertain Path: A Search for the Future of National Parks By William C. Tweed Tweed, William C. Uncertain Path: A Search for the Future of National Parks. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2010. Ix, 236 pp. ISBN: 9780520265578. US$55, hardbound. Recycled paper.

In Uncertain Path, William Tweed provides both an historical perspective of the National Park Service as well as a vivid description of his journey along the John Muir and High Sierra Trails in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Before retiring, Tweed was the Chief Park Naturalist at Sequoia and Kings National Parks which makes him an expert on these trails and the history of the National Park Service. Uncertain Path is best described as one part history and one part memoir. The book is broken down into four parts: "South from Yosemite," "Kings Canyon National Park," "Sequoia National Park," and "National Parks in the Twenty-first Century." Throughout these chapters, Tweed reflects on the original purpose of America's National Parks and their future in the twenty-first century. To better answer his query, Tweed decides to reconnect with nature in his old stomping ground, the Sierra Nevada. Tweed states, "My quest would be to see if I could make sense of traditional national parks and wilderness in a twenty-first-century context" (p. 4).

An avid outdoorsman, Tweed has been hiking the High Sierra Trails for years. His role in the National Park Service gives him an authoritative voice when he discusses the changes in American's use of national parks. Tweed reminisces about the popularity of the national parks during the seventies and the subsequent changes in the use of these parks. Later, Tweed laments our high-tech addicted youths' alienation from nature: "In my last years working . . . I began to see children watching television in the back of the car as their families toured the national parks. Apparently, neither parents nor children saw any reason why the young folk should even look out the window" (p. 175). With our changing American culture, Tweed ponders the future of the national parks being placed in ". …

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