National Geographic : 1979 Jul
housing and other structures to locations outside the park. The commercial garage, car rental, and some sportswear and gift shops are to be removed. Also to go: the ice rink, a golf course, some tennis courts, most swimming pools. Question: Are these long-established rec reational facilities completely out of place? For many visitors, I know, they add quality to the park experience. Over-commercialization received wide criticism in the planning process. It is an old story, and not a simple one. To some, a lodge's shopping bazaar is visual pollution; others like to buy souvenirs of their visit, or a raincoat if they need it. Concessionaires Clean Up Their Act In any event, concessionaires are looking closely at their own standards of perfor mance. The Park Service plans to cancel its contract with the biggest concessionaire at Yellowstone because, it announced, the company was providing "unsatisfactory ser vice to the public." The Yosemite concession has had its own difficulties, and has overcome them. Back in 1974, a great environmental hue and cry arose when the Yosemite Park and Curry Company advertised for conventions. The Curry Company, as it is called, listened. To day it works hard to keep Yosemite as pure as possible. "We want to be the number one environ mentally concerned company in the park system," Edward C. Hardy, chief operating officer, informed me. He makes an impressive case. The recy cling program he originated not only clears away litter but makes a modest profit. Sierra Club teams trek far into Yosemite's wilds to cut up airplanes that have crashed over the years. Part of the recycling income pays for a helicopter to carry the material away in slings, and nature slowly reclaims the site. The Curry Company razes dilapidated buildings and intends to remove a collapsed bridge. At considerable expense, the com pany bear-proofs garbage cans and food lockers. Ed Hardy pays attention to details. Most beverage-can litter was ended by requiring a nickel deposit. The return rate, he told me, astonished him: 75 percent. He also insists that beverage cans have nondetachable pop-tops. This policy once angered a prominent brewer, Mr. Hardy re called. "You can't tell me what kind of pop tops to use," the brewer bellowed over the long-distance phone. "I told him I agreed with him," the conces sionaire said. "I also told him that I didn't want to go around picking up his tops, and therefore wouldn't buy his beer." A while later the brewer called again. His cans now met the specifications. During my Yosemite visit, Park Service Director Whalen arrived for a meeting with the service's civilian advisory board. I asked for some of his time, and he graciously con ducted me on a tour of the park, which he had served not long before as its deputy superintendent. We covered many topics during that ride, and I summarize them here. "You have seen parks injured by over use," Bill Whalen said. "Yosemite's pro posed master plan is a good start, and it points to the solution for all overcrowded parks, hard though that solution may be. "Concessionaires? In the past they and the Park Service worked together as coequals, as partners. Now we consider it the Park Service's responsibility to direct their oper ations. The public deserves the same high quality of service from the concessionaire as it demands from us. That is our standard for concession management." I asked Director Whalen to comment on external (Continued on page 59) Second Battle of Gettysburg: A war of lawsuits was won by an entrepreneur who erected a 307-foot tower-a"monstrosity," cried critics;a "service," claimed proponents-atGettysburgNationalMilitary Park.On Cemetery Ridge, the ranger'stalk is free. CARYWOLINSKY,STOCK, BOSTON A solitary skier glides across the beach at IndianaDunes National Lakeshore (overleaf), bracketed by a power plant and several steel mills.