In 1998, Frank and Audrey Peterman won the The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award for Outstanding Citizen Advocacy on Behalf of the National Parks, 1998. Of course, I was proud of them and knew that they deserved this honor, after witnessing their hard work to bring African-Americans to the awareness of the splendor of our National Parks. But, in good consciousness, I had to ask Audrey if there would be as many homeless people in America, if the National Parks were accessible to everyone, like land was before the European colonialists arrived.
My contention was and still is that a great percentage of human beings are nomadic and the forests are where they would live, if they were not designated as National Parks.
Since I knew the Petermans had the ear of National Parks administrators, I suggested that they propose that several acres of the parks could be developed as free camping grounds and lodges to house those who would normally travel from site to site, similar to how Native Americans did six centuries ago. To my chagrin, Audrey skimmed over my idea and the discussion ended abruptly.
Now, 11 years later, I’m reading their newly published book, LEGACY ON THE LAND and truly enjoying Audrey’s descriptive writing of the couples joyous romps through the Badlands and other vistas of our glorious country. Yet, homelessness is evident in higher numbers as thousands of American families are evicted from their apartments and foreclosed homes. Mothers and their children are living in their vehicles, while the National Parks stand in pristine and lavish splendor. There is definitely something immoral and downright wrong with this.