Other Works in the Series, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. ix-x

Illustrations

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pp. xi-xiv

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Foreword

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pp. xv-xviii

Ro Wauer is my hero. There are only a few people who have significantly influenced my nearly four decades with the National Park Service (NPS), and Roland Wauer is in the top tier of the list yet probably does not even know that. His vision and values plus his ability to turn those into actual policy and programs intersected my early years and shaped...

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Preface

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pp. xix-xx

Many folks, on finding out that I worked for the National Park Service (NPS) for thirty-two years, express envy for the kind of life I lived. Few people have such an extraordinary opportunity. Working and living within America’s crown jewels was a wonderful way of life. Looking back at those years as a park ranger, naturalist, and biologist, I can’t...

Acknowledgments

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pp. xxi-2

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Introduction

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pp. 3-8

A chance telephone call literally changed my life! As in the Robert Frost poem, two roads lay before me; “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” I have wondered numerous times what my life would have been like if I had chosen a route other than the National Park Service. But I doubt if it would have brought me the same...

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1. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

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pp. 9-19

I had been to Crater Lake only once before when I began my National Park Service career there. I was hitchhiking back to Santa Rosa, California, with my junior college friend Irwin Kunachima, after spending part of the 1954 summer with friends near Lethbridge in Canada. An elderly couple from Brooklyn, New York, picked us up somewhere in Montana. Although...

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2. Death Valley National Monument,California and Nevada

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pp. 20-38

I had never before spent much time in a desert environment, having been raised in Idaho and Wyoming and schooled in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. But I quickly fell in love with the desert. It can be the most peaceful environment on earth, and it can go from an arid, empty landscape to one filled with colorful wildflowers almost overnight. I discovered that...

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3. Pinnacles National Monument, California

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pp. 39-49

My first permanent position at Death Valley was a dual one that included a sixmonth assignment at Pinnacles. I had not even heard of the area before then, in spite of the park being located less than one hundred miles south of where I had gone to college at San Jose State. But soon after I arrived there, I discovered it to be an outstanding natural...

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4. Yosemite National Park, California

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pp. 50-54

In December 1958, I was selected to attend the Albright Training Center, starting on February 9, 1959. This was a three-month “intake” training program held in Yosemite National Park; the program was later moved to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. My official invitation letter was signed by the program director, Frank F. Kowski, who had developed...

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5. Zion National Park, Utah

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pp. 55-75

Zion had been one of my favorite national parks since I was a youngster; it was one of the parks I visited with my parents on several occasions. However, Grand Teton was my father’s favorite, and while we lived in Idaho Falls, Idaho, until I was fourteen, we visited that nearby park often. But we made annual or biannual trips to Zion and Grand Canyon’s North...

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6. Big Bend National Park, Texas

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pp. 76-110

I fell in love with the Big Bend country on my very first visit in 1963, four years before moving there as chief park naturalist. And even now, half a century later, when people ask me about a favorite park, without any hesitation I tell them it is Big Bend. There are several reasons for this. First, Big Bend National Park is one of our few truly wilderness parks. Only a...

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7. Southwest Regional Office

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pp. 111-143

My new assignment as regional chief scientist did not become effective until July 23, 1972. An August 24 press release, issued by the National Park Service, summarized my principal responsibilities thus: “Mr. Wauer . . . will be responsible for the Natural Resources Management and Scientific Studies program for the Southwest Region . . . will work...

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8. Washington, D.C.

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pp. 144-174

We moved to Washington with a good deal of trepidation. We had never before lived on the East Coast and in a large city, and the very idea of becoming a member of the Washington bureaucracy was totally against my nature. Yet both Betty and I discovered that we thoroughly enjoyed the area. Great history! Marvelous restaurants!...

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9. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina

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pp. 175-184

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in the entire National Park System. It is the premier national park in the eastern United States! It contains a highly diverse natural environment, including more than sixteen hundred kinds of flowering plants and one hundred tree species. Vegetation is divided into cove hardwood forests, hemlock...

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10. Virgin Islands

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pp. 185-212

My initial trip to the Virgin Islands (VI) was an exciting and fascinating experience. I had never before spent any time on tropical islands, so the entire scene was foreign to me. And the idea of working in such a remote, different environment was rather romantic and exotic. But it was first important to see the area to decide whether or not Betty and...

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Afterword

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pp. 213-218

When the life you have chosen (or has it chosen you?) allows you to spend your entire career working in, writing about, and having an impact on the most beautiful parts of the United States—the national parks—how can life get any better?
So after retirement you sit back and do nothing and wish you were back in the good...

Appendix: Scientific Names

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pp. 219-228

Sources Consulted

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pp. 229-236

Index

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pp. 237-250

Image Plates

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