The National Park Service employs a complex naming scheme to classify its holdings. Commentators and agency officials have called for a simplification of this classification scheme, which presently encompasses nineteen categories and a bevy of singular designations. Simplification has certain benefits: reducing the administrative cost of maintaining the complex system and the confusion it engenders among visitors. The classification hierarchy is woefully under-studied, however; this Article provides the first sustained exploration of its evolution and benefits. An analysis of the hierarchy's evolution reveals that it is deeply connected to America's diverse and shifting attitudes toward its heritage, both reflecting and perpetuating an unwillingness to lump all aspects of this heritage into a small set of indistinguishable categories. A discussion of the hierarchy's practical effects shows that it generates substantial benefits beyond economic impacts. The classification scheme reinforces enviromnental law by creating focal points for statutes and environmental activism. It provides signals to local economic actors. And it allows for legislative tailoring that helps solve interest group conflict, safeguard local communities, and protect the National Park System. In exploring these issues, this Article hopes to demonstrate (for both academics and federal decisionmakers) the continued vitality of the Park Service's complex classification hierarchy.
Garett R. Rosenthal,
"Reservations of Like Character"-The Origins and Benefits of the National Park System's Classification Hierarchy,
Dick. L. Rev.
Available at: https://ideas.dickinsonlaw.psu.edu/dlra/vol121/iss2/3