One of our nation's least appreciated national parks is Big Bend National Park, located in a remote region of southwest Texas, situated on 118 miles of the Rio Grande and Mexican border. Since its inception over 60 years ago, Big Bend has welcomed visitors to explore its stunning diversity of geological features and animal and plant life. The multitude of glowing descriptions of hiking and backpacking trips in Big Bend illustrate how personally affecting a trip to Big Bend can be. Its positive impact on visitors to the park cannot be mistaken, just as its positive impact on the neighboring communities cannot be overlooked. Big Bend National Park has benefited the livelihoods of those in neighboring communities by preserving local ecological diversity and offering employment and business opportunities throughout its history.
[...] Unfortunately, a similar turn of events is exactly what may happen in a place like Terlingua, TX, which relies for so much of its financial vitality on Big Bend National Park tourism. Thankfully, Terlingua seems to be more diversified than the three unfortunate Mexican villages, and may be better prepared for a day that Big Bend stops having a positive financial effect on their town. Just as significant as the monetary gain that Big Bend can provide, the social impact deserves attention as well (Zierer, 463). [...]
[...] The story of Big Bend National Park. Austin: University of Texas Press. MacCormack, J. (2006, December 4). Film gives voice to Big Bend folks irked by closures. San Antonio Express, p. 1B. National Park Service. (2006). Big Bend National Park. National Park Service [Online]. Available: http://www.nps.gov [2007, March 4]. National Parks Conservation Association. (2007). Big Bend National Park. National Parks Conservation Association [Online] Available: http://www.npca.org/stateoftheparks/big_bend [2007, March 4]. Onorato, D., Hellgren, E., Van Den Bussche, R., & Skiles, J. (2004). [...]
[...] Canadian Journal of Zoology 1201-1210. Patoski, J. (2002, March). Big Bend 2002. Texas Monthly, 78- Ragsdale, K. (1976). Quicksilver: Terlingua and the Chisos Mining Company College Station: Texas A&M University Press. Ragsdale, K. (2001, June 6). Terlingua, TX. Handbook of Texas Online [Online] Available: http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/TT/hnt13.html [2007, March 4]. Root, J. (2006, June 4). Across the Rio Grande [...]
[...] This may seem like a large number of visitors, but compared to other national parks, such as Yosemite National Park which received approximately 3.5 million visitors per year, it is apparent just how relatively unpopular Big Bend is as a national park tourist destination. Nevertheless, enough visitors come to the park that the businesspeople of Terlingua are able to take advantage of the tourist dollars that are available and help keep their community strong. Along the southern border of the park, there are three small Mexican villages, Lajitas, Boquillas del Carmen, and Santa Elena, that once depended on Big Bend tourists. [...]
[...] Some of the first visitors to what is now the Big Bend National Park were far from the typical water bottle-toting, sunglasses-wearing tourist that frequents the park today. Archaeological evidence in the form of pictographs and petroglyphs suggests that Paleo-Indians inhabited the park over 15,000 years ago. Later, Archaic period peoples led a nomadic lifestyle in the Chihuahuan Desert. They were followed by the Chisos Indians, who planted crops in the relatively fertile Rio Grande riparian zones, the Mescalero Apaches, and the Comanches, who lived in the area into the 20th century (National Parks Service, 2007). [...]
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