2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM


MATHIS, Allyson C., Grand Canyon National Park, National Park Service, PO Box 129, Grand Canyon, AR 86023, allyson_mathis@nps.gov

Many national park areas, such as Grand Canyon National Park, contain world-renowned geoheritage resources. In fact, many national park sites were established because of the significance of their geologic resources. The National Park Service is charged with preserving and protecting park resources while providing recreational and inspirational visits for the public. The interpretive and educational efforts of the NPS are key components of its conservation program using the philosophy “through interpretation, understanding; through understanding, appreciation; and through appreciation, preservation.” Indeed, interpretation and education may be the NPS' most effective preservation tool as long-term protection of national parks ultimately resides within the nation's population.

Interpretation is a philosophy of communication that aims to reveal significances of park resources rather than just to convey factual information. Traditionally, interpretive programs have targeted visitors in parks, but more interpretation now occurs off-site, including environmental education outreach programs, in addition to web-based interpretation. On-site interpretation, however, can be particularly powerful as it can complement the public's direct experiences with geoheritage resources that occur during park visits.

Interpretation can enhance appreciation of geoheritage resources in many ways, particularly by highlighting the connections between the scenery and underlying geology, and by delineating the relationships between bedrock geology and a park's flora, fauna and human history. Additionally, viewing rocks and landscapes from different perspectives and scales further enables the understanding of the value of geologic resources as integral parts of park environments.

National park areas with their exceptional geologic resources also allow the public to connect to the importance of geoheritage values within societies and communities at large and can foster a greater appreciation of the significance of our nation's geologic heritage. As a result, effective interpretation of geoheritage resources within parks can lead to park preservation, and additionally to a greater conservation ethic towards all geoheritage resources.