Fourteen years after his Pulitzer Prize-winning series, ''Will Success Spoil the National Parks,'' former Monitor correspondent Robert Cahn returns to the parks in a five-part series beginning today. He finds new challenges there.
In 1968, the prime concern was overcrowding and the problems resulting from it. Some of these problems, such as pollution, persist. But now the basic concern is different. Superintendents and rangers emphasize the external threats , the developments outside park boundaries that could harm vital resources within. Some prime examples: nearby mineral and energy development, changing patterns of water use.
Then there are the political issues. Budgetary restraint in Washington often works against parks getting the expert help needed to care for their resources adequately. Some people feel the Park Service has been overburdened in recent years by such untraditional additions to the system as national recreation areas located in or near urban centers. And, as Mr. Cahn points out, the people who head the Interior Department and those who actually manage the parks don't always see eye to eye on how the system's problems should be remedied - or, for that matter, on what those problems are.
Will these challenges and others ruin the natural and cultural treasures the national parks were founded to safeguard? What can be done to make sure this doesn't happen? Cahn, currently Washington editor of Audubon magazine, draws on years of experience as a writer in the environmental field to seek out answers. He begins his search at Yellowstone, the oldest national park.