National Geographic : 1978 Jul
requests had to be submitted between Octo ber 1 and 5 to be eligible for a lottery. Only 20 percent of the requests could be filled. Conservationist Rod Nash, speaking at a park symposium, stated the problem sim ply: "We're loving the Grand Canyon to death. We must protect it from its friends." NE EARLY FRIEND of the canyon, President Theodore Roosevelt, contrib uted to the destruction of its ecology by ignoring his own sage advice. After visit ing the canyon in 1903, he delivered an elo quent and spontaneous tribute: "In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a nat ural wonder which, so far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. ... Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American... should see." Three years later he declared the canyon a game preserve, and gave it national monu ment status in 1908. He returned in 1913 for a mountain lion hunt-a popular sport that eventually pushed the animal to the brink of extinction on the Kaibab Plateau. With its major enemy decimated, and a ban on nonpredator hunting, the mule deer soared in numbers from an estimated 4,000 in 1906 to 100,000 in 1924. They munched through meadows and forests with the effi ciency of a plague of locusts. By 1924 deer were starving by the thousands. The pre park balance has never recovered. Nor will it. It would be something like Humpty-Dumpty putting himself back to gether while all the king's men stomped on him. Because the children's children for To protect or deface: Every visitor to the Grand Canyon must be a ranger of conscience. Park employee Trinkle Jones (above, right) gently removes a clay jar stashed in a cairn perhaps eight hundred years ago. Patched with a thumb-size corncob smeared with pine pitch, it probably served as a corn cache for Indians in the canyon. Some visitors scrawl their own thoughtless graffiti across Indian rock paintings (right).