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Enjoying Katmai


Katmai National Park has been part of the national park system since 1918, just two years after Congress created the National Park Service. Located about 300 miles southwest of Anchorage, Katmai’s attractions have evolved from the aftermath of an epic volcanic eruption to world-class fishing to the place to go to see brown bears catch salmon. These attractions have yet to attract the hordes of people who visit other national parks, and Katmai remains one of the least visited of the 59 national parks. The Park Service is responsible for managing Katmai consistent with the Organic Act’s dual goals of enjoyment and conservation. In practice, Katmai experiences much more conservation than enjoyment. The proposals to increase visitation to Katmai have failed because of a consensus that not all national parks are alike even though the law governing them is nearly the same. Katmai’s history of benign neglect by Congress and the courts demonstrates that the Park Service is capable of managing remote national parks in a manner that achieves the law’s goals while serving the public’s desires.

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