Grand Canyon

Will open spaces like this remain pristine or will there one day be a condominium perched here on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park with oil well derricks in the distance?

Years ago when I was working for the National Park Service as a ranger/naturalist at Grand Canyon National Park, a woman approached me asking whether we had mountain lions in the park. I told her we definitely did. She was appalled and angrily demanded to know how the government could allow such animals to run free in a park.

Our family here in Texas lives “out in the country” and are sometimes asked “aren’t you afraid to live out there so far from town (half a mile), with all those coyotes, snakes and stuff?” Well, all those “wild animals” are the least of our fears. What I really want to know is why my friends aren’t scared to death living in town surrounded by so many weird and dangerous people.

Paul Risk is a professor emeritus in the College of Forestry and Agriculture at Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas. Email: