The US National Parks system as a political pawn causing untold damage

The current Government shutdown in the USA caused by the political dispute over President Trump’s demand for funding for a wall along the US border with Mexico is having significant negative effects on the historic environment and nature conservation of the ‘treasured’ National Parks system, as well as related agencies falling within the realm of the Department of the Interior.

During this shutdown 80% of the employees of the NPS have been furloughed, leaving only skeleton staff mainly for policing and security.

It has been reported that the National Parks Service is losing $400,000 per day by not collecting admissions revenue where parks and heritage sites charge, quite apart from wider revenue lost from concessions, campgrounds, retail and hospitality. There have been widespread reports of significant human health, pollution and threats to nature and ecosystems, with sanitation sites overflowing and litter not being collected. Questions have also been asked on why sites have been left accessible, rather than simply closing the various NPS units/sites altogether.

Maintenance backlogs and acute maintenance/management issues are building due to the impact of weather at this time of the year also. It is not a pretty picture – foremost for the dedicated NPS staff who are not being paid, many of which are trying to keep things going on a voluntary basis, secondly for the long-term damage being done to the natural and cultural resources of the Park System which has been heralded as “America’s Best Idea”, and thirdly for the unfortunate political circumstances whereby the environment (in its broadest form) comes low down in the pecking order when Government faces a crisis.

Glenluce Abbey: book cupboard

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Glenluce Abbey © David Gill

Within the cloister at Glenluce is a recessed book cupboard marked by a Ministry sign.

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Glenluce Abbey © David Gill

For other books cupboards:

Goodrich Castle: guidebooks

Goodrich_MPBW

1958 (5th impress. 1967)

Goodrich Castle was placed in State Guardianship in 1920. The first official guidebook was prepared by C.A. Ralegh Radford, with a new edition in 1958. It consists of a history, with a section on periods of construction, then a description. A plan of the castle was included inside the guidebook at the start of the description.

Goodrich_DOE

1958 (9th impress. 1975)

The revised DOE blue guide has the foldout plan inside the back cover.

Goodrich_EH

1993 (repr. 1999)

The English Heritage guidebook was prepared by Derek Renn (whose other guides included Framlingham Castle, Old Sarum and Shell Keeps). This starts with a tour of the castle, walks along the river Wye, and a history of Goodrich. A plan of the castle is placed in the centre of the guide.

Tintagel Castle: guidebooks

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Tintagel © David Gill

Tintagel Castle was placed in State Guardianship by the Duchy of Cornwall in 1930. C.A. Ralegh Radford prepared the first guide 1935, with a second edition in 1939. It is introduced with a summary, followed by a history, periods of construction of the castle, and then the description. A foldout plan is placed inside the back cover. The later MPBW guidebook had an additional plan of the island inside the back cover.

Tintagel_MPBW

1939 (2nd ed., 10th impress. 1962)

Tintagel_MPBW_r

1939 (2nd ed., 14th impress. 1969)

The English Heritage guidebook was written by Brian K. Davison. It contains three sections: Tour and Description; History of Tintagel; the Legend of King Arthur. A plan of the island is placed inside the back cover.

Tintagel_EH

1999 (repr. 2002)

St Davids Bishop’s Palace: guidebooks

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The Cathedral from the Bishop’s Palace, St Davids © David Gill

The Bishop’s Palace at St Davids was placed in State Guardianship in 1932. The official guidebook was prepared by C.A. Ralegh Radford. The first edition appeared in 1934, and the second edition in 1953. This starts with the history of the palace followed by a description of the remains. There is a foldout plan inside the back cover.

StDavids_MPBW

1953 (2nd ed.)

The blue guide continued into the 1970s as a DOE guide, published on behalf of the Welsh Office. On the title page (but not the cover) the Welsh title is provided: Llys  yr Esgob Tyddewi. It included a reconstruction by Alan Sorrell. A summary in Welsh is provided at the back of the guide.

St_Davids_palace

1953 (2nd ed.; 11th impress. with amendments, 1971)

The Cadw guide changed the title with the emphasis on St Davids (and note the dropping of the apostrophe). The author was by J. Wyn Evans, Dean of the neighbouring cathedral. It starts with ‘A Palace for Prelates: Historical Background’, and is followed by ‘A Tour of the Bishop’s Palace’. At the back is a section on ‘Bishops as Builders: a Summary of the Building History’ by Rick Turner. There is a plan of the palace inside the card rear cover. One page summarises the guide in Welsh.

The guide includes a section on St Non’s Chapel.

StDavids_palace_Cadw

1991

A revised version of the Wyn Evans and Turner guide was reissued in the larger Cadw format.

StDavids_palace_Cadw_large

1991 (rev. 1999)

 

Cardoness Castle: notice signs

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Cardoness Castle © David Gill

The top of Cardoness Castle provides views over the estuary. Visitors are discouraged from trying to get on top of the walls. One points out the danger, the other expressly forbids it.

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Cardoness Castle © David Gill

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Cardoness Castle © David Gill

The second reproduces the word ‘Notice’: surely redundant on a sign? And the clear indication that ‘visitors are not allowed on wall top’ is ‘by order’; underneath is an erased  line, ‘Ministry of Works’.

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Cardoness Castle © David Gill

Caerwent: Guidebooks

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Caerwent © David Gill

The Roman town of Venta Silurum at Caerwent, Wales, has impressive walls as well as the excavated remains of some the public buildings.

The original Ministry guidebook was prepared by Oswin E. Craster. It follows the standard format of History and Description, with a foldout plan inside the back cover. The later editions contained a reconstruction of the town by Alan Sorrell.

Caerwent

(1951) [1970]

This was replaced by a Cadw guide by Richard J. Brewer. This contained a history followed by a tour guide. There is a foldout plan inside the back card cover. There are numerous colour illustrations including finds from the site.

 

Caerwent

1993

A second edition of the guide, in larger format, was published in 1997.

Cerwent_Cadw_2

1993 (2nd ed. 1997)

A third edition in a yet larger format appeared in 2006. This contains details of recent excavations at the site.

The new guide also included a section on the nearby Llanmelin Wood Hillfort.

Caerwent_cadw_2006

1993 (2nd ed. 1996; 3rd ed. 2006)