by Max Brantley
Thanks for a friend for reminding me today about the New York Times article on some of the lesser-known elements of the National Park System and what recent budget cuts — $139 million this year — mean to them.
I think the Park System is a true national treasure that illuminates places, people and events that never stop informing us about the American experience. But to those who'd strangle government, it's just another needless excess. It is a pity. Nice irony is that the Boston National Historic Site (Tea Party, anyone) is among the most visited.
The Times article touched on Arkansas:
While millions might visit a memorial to veterans of World War II or the Korean War, or the stony visages of Mount Rushmore, this second rank of notables can struggle to find an audience.Who cares about Arkansas Post? I turn the floor to a good conservative Republican, federal Judge Morris Arnold, an expert on the subject.
In 2010, the Arkansas Post, honoring a 17th-century European trading post and Civil War site near the Arkansas-Mississippi border, drew a mere 34,712 visitors.
“We try everything we know,” said Donna Robertson, the memorial’s administrative officer, adding that the park staff has had trouble attracting people to the rural, financially depressed area 100 miles southeast of Little Rock. “You have to be lost, or coming here.”
Apart from Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas's National Park Service attractions are mostly small, but still significant. The Central High historic site, Bill Clinton's birthplace, the Pea Ridge battlefield and the Fort Smith national historic site all enrich us. Inevitably, they'll wither and die if the strangle-government crowd prevails. It's a pity.