Retired National Parks pair to share book of its history and future
By Hannah Morse
Originally posted in the Bradenton Herald on December 5, 2016.
When Rolf Diamant was old enough to get his driver’s license, he hopped in a borrowed station wagon with a friend, loaded up some sleeping bags and started driving across the country to California.
Badlands. Mesa Verde. Every little park in between.
Nora Mitchell was the self-proclaimed “travel bug” in her family, but they would together often camp and hike in the Great Smoky Mountains.
The duo’s first forays into national parks would lead them to lengthy National Park Service careers. And, to each other. Although the married couple retired from the NPS in 2011, they’re still dedicating their time to the greatest part of their lives.
Diamant and Mitchell will be at the downtown Manatee County Public Library from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to talk about the book they co-authored called, “A Thinking Person’s Guide to America’s National Parks.”
“There are lots of people who have a deep affection for the national parks and the national parks system,” Diamant said, “but they are really unsatisfied with what they’re learning. They’re hungry for it.”
That’s where the “thinking person’s guide” comes into play. History, technology, global economics, native perspectives and sustainability are just some of the topics experts dwell on in the books 23 chapters. Those looking for incredible pictures from the American Samoa to the East Coast and to satiate a craving for the stories hidden in land and time can find them in the book.
“Part of the message of the book is that these places in fact have many layers of meaning,” Diamant said. “They’re more complicated than what meets the eye.”
The book, published in April, also came in time for the National Park System’s centennial.
“One thing Americans should know is they own the national parks,” said Lucy Lawliss, president of the Friends of De Soto National Memorial, Bradenton’s national park.
The pair will present stunning photos from parks and talk about the book Wednesday, but will spare plenty of time for questions — something Mitchell got used to very quickly. During her time as a park ranger at Acadia National Park in Maine, Mitchell said it was like a crash course.
“It was fantastic. You’re basically asked to go hiking Acadia … and tell people about the place, hope that people are learning and having a great time.” she said. “People ask you all kinds of questions.”
“You have to be on your toes,” Diamant chimed in.
The hardest question to answer: What’s your favorite park?
Well, with 413 to choose from, the pair said it’s nearly impossible.
Originally posted in the Bradenton Herald.
Rolf Diamant and Nora Mitchell are both members of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks.