This poster was presented at A Century of Design in the Parks Symposium, Santa Fe, New Mexico, June 21-23, 2016.
By Robin Pinto
The Park Service is the premier repository of American history and heritage; yet it does not tell its own story very well. Indeed, our upcoming Centennial should be a time when we celebrate not only what the parks have to offer but also what they have accomplished in the past and how they preserve our history for us today.
The majority of older national parks and monuments – especially those originally set aside for their natural resources and their stunning scenic values – contain historic designed landscapes. With the hand labor of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the engineering talents of Park Service design teams, park roads, trails, buildings, and recreation facilities were constructed to maximize visitor opportunities and minimize ecological intrusions. These cultural resources are significant because they physically link the natural resources of each park and its history of development to the national themes of the Great Depression, the work programs of the New Deal, and park traditions of natural resource conservation. In the Southwest region, more than 75% of park units still support CCC structures. Such ubiquity of historic resources and landscapes gives weight to the importance of and need for their identification and interpretation to the public. Yet in many of these parks this important story remains largely untold or inadequately interpreted.
Interpretation must continue to work to disassemble the old divisions between cultural and natural perspectives. The CCC designed landscapes offer a valuable canvas to reinterpret for the visiting public NPS’s historic role in national recreation development and its eighty-year history of protecting those cultural resources that are still in use today. This talk will examine the issues needed to reveal the historic landscape at Chiricahua National Monument and its opportunities for educating the public about historic preservation.
Robin Pinto studies the evolution of cultural landscapes in Arizona. Her research centers on three periods of landscape development and change: early settlement and homesteading, the New Deal and the federal work programs, and ranching on public lands. She has a Masters in Landscape Architecture and doctorate from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at The University of Arizona. She recently completed her dissertation entitled “Cattle Grazing in the National Parks, Historical Development and History of Management.” She has written historical landscape assessments and administrative histories for the National Park Service units including Fort Bowie National Historic Site, Chiricahua and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monuments, and Saguaro National Park. She headed a team of historians that produced a heritage tourism map entitled “The New Deal in Arizona: Connections to Our Historic Landscapes.” She recently developed an exhibit at the Arizona History Museum in Tucson entitled “It Saved My Life: the Civilian Conservation Corps in Southern Arizona.”