Human / Cultural Implications

Building the Park Road
Photo courtesy of Edmunds (Alaska Museum of History and Art, B88-12-205)

Repeat photo pairs have documented decades of change occurring throughout Denali National Park and Preserve.  Some of those changes are directly related to the choices park managers have made throughout the near 100-year history of the park.  Examples include, the construction of the 90-mile Denali Park Road and the replacement of the Eielson Visitor Center.  The photo pairs document not just the addition of the structures but how the construction and maintenance of those structures permanently altered the vegetation patterns at and around those sites, thereby changing the available habitats and the wildlife movements through each area.

Although park infrastructure such as roads, trails, and buildings are at times necessary improvements to allow for valuable visitor experiences, it is important for park managers to understand how their decisions affect the landscape of the park they must preserve, and thus they are required by law to perform detailed studies measuring the impacts their actions may have.  After all, the majority of our visitors have yet to be born, and we must consider their needs as well as our own.

Little change overs 80 yearsOverall, across the park landscape, human development impacts have remained quite small.  Compare changes in Denali to those you may have witnessed during your lifetime near your childhood home.  This preservation is largely due to the actions and resolve of individuals that have worked to establish and manage what we now call Denali National Park and Preserve.  It is amazing what humans can do to protect wildlife and its habitat in some areas, while simultaneously destroying it in others.  The choice is truly up to us, and since landscape changes are still occurring, even within the boundaries of a preserve, we can be sure there is still work to do.

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