By THOMAS C. VINT
"Why gild the lily?" is a well-worn question that arises in the early stages of many a discussion involving a development program in our national parks. It is a good question and a helpful one. It asks, "Didn't nature do well enough?","Didn't history do the right thing?", "Can these places be improved upon?", "Why develop them?" It is a good question for it expresses briefly--perhaps a bit bluntly, the reasoning behind the policy under which our national parks and allied areas are administered.
These areas were set aside and designated National Parks, National Monuments, National Historic Sites, each one for a specific reason and purpose. They contain the great examples of our natural scenery and the places that mark important moments in the Nation's history. Nature gave us those in one category and history left us those in the other. They are the treasured items of our national heritage. They have been selected and set aside with the admonition that they be preserved for the enjoyment of the people of this and future generations.
This means that preservation and protection is of primary importance. In itself this is a relatively simple matter. How to reconcile this with how they are to be used "for the enjoyment of this and future generations" brings the problems. Lock them up on one hand