National Parks Held Hostage

National Parks Held Hostage

Just what is a “public” park?

Gary Hunt
Outpost of Freedom
October 12, 2013

Recent events have demonstrated that the US government is more than willing to create any inconvenience, whether lawful, or not, in an effort to achieve their ends. This has become abundantly apparent in the closure of portions of National Parks, without regard to the cost, or the inconvenience and private costs, as a consequence thereof.  Concessions within the parks and nearby communities dependant on the tourism brought by the parks have been financially devastated, while government revenues from leases and fees have disappeared, though cost of enforcement of shutdowns has brought upon the government additional costs. This, however, is information readily available, even in Mainstream Media.

To understand just what has happened with these parks, and just how the government has taken upon themselves the ‘responsibility’ of, as their mission states, “Protecting America’s Great Outdoors and Powering Our Future”, and at the same time, denying us, the Public, access to those parks, can best be explained by a review of the creation of these monuments to the heritage of America.

These parks are “Public Lands”. To understand just what “Public Land” are, perhaps we need to understand what “Public” means, or, at least, what it meant to the Framers of the Constitution , and, at the time that the parks and public lands came into being. To really understand this, we must look at what “public” meant to them, not as we are conditioned to believe, now, that if it is “public”, then it belongs to the government.

From Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:

Public n. : The general body of mankind or of a nation, state or community; the people, indefinitely.

Public a. :
1.  Pertaining to a nation, state or community; extending to a whole people; as a public law, which binds the people of a nation or state as opposed to a private statute or resolve which respects individuals or a corporation only.
3.  Open; notorious; exposed to all persons without restriction.
4.  Regarding a community; directed to the interests of a nation, state or community.
6.  Open to common use; as a public road.
7.  In general public expresses something common to mankind at large, to a nation, state, city or town, and is opposed to private, which denotes what belongs to an individual, to a family, to a company or corporation.

So, in the noun form, it means the general body of a nation. That is not the government, that is us. When used as an adjective (preceding “land”), it is “extending to a whole people”, not the government; “exposed to all persons without restriction”; “open to common use”; or, “something common to mankind” and “is opposed to private” in any form that is not all inclusive. It does not mean “government”, which job is strictly to manage the business of government.

So, with that understood, let’s look at the creation of the first two great parks created in this country, Yosemite and Yellowstone.

Yosemite was first given to the State of California, since a National Park system had yet to be established, though the land had to be set aside to protect it from commercial usage. On June 30, 1864, the Congress approved “An Act authorizing a Grant to the State of California of the ‘Yo-Semite Valley,’ and the Land embracing the ‘Mariposa Big Tree Grove.’” That Act provides “[t]hat there shall be, and is hereby, granted to the State of California” and “that the said State shall accept this grant upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation; shall be inalienable for all time”. It further provided that “All incomes derived from leases of privileges to be expended in the preservation and improvement of the property, or the roads leading thereto.” Later, Yosemite was incorporated into the National Park system, though the intent of the creation of the park, “that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation; shall be inalienable for all time,” is clearly stated, and the that income from the park will provide  for the “preservation and improvement”.

Clearly, the preservation of the park was outside of government and was to be paid for by those monies collected from fees, lease, and any other source, making the park a self-sustaining entity.

Just 6 years later, the first “national park” was created by “An Act To set apart a certain tract of land lying near the head-waters of the Yellowstone River as a public park,” signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant, on March 1, 1872.  This Act states that the land “is hereby reserved and withdrawn from settlement, occupancy, or sale under the laws of the United States, and dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” Though not in the Act, funding was to be similar to that approved for Yosemite — it was to be self-sustaining. Not that “public” and “people” have become interchangeable, and do not mean “government.”

Both acts provided for protection of the land, vegetation, and animals, and to remove people who attempted to settle on those lands. However, with the exceptions provided, nothing allowed the removal of the public, for the purposes stated; as a public park, resort, recreation, and pleasuring-ground.

So, the parks were established from the public lands to specific purposes, for our (the public) benefit and enjoyment. They were self-sustaining, and unalienable.  How came they, then, to be utilized as a political tool, denying access, prohibiting parking, denial of use to leases with the respective loss of revenue, and, subject to the funding of the general government, rather than the resources that were provide at their establishment?

The intent, at their inception, was, without a doubt, well thought out and of nothing but good intentions. Subsequently, bureaucrats with small minds have promulgated rules, in defiance with the enactments of Congress, converting the parks into ‘private’ entities, owned by the government. Further, the government,. by the means of “general funding”, have taken from the parks their intended source of finance and incorporated it into the general fund budget, thereby removing the self-sustaining aspect initiated by the Congress. The government, especially the Executive Branch, has seized the “public lands” and “public parks” for their own private purposes, to be used to reward, or punish, as they see fit, that which is, by right, ours, and not to be used in the manner that has now removed them from their intended purpose.

With that in mind, what are we, the PUBLIC, going to do about it?


  1. Hunt says:

    An upbeat result of the closing of parks at Resistance Has Begun

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