conservation vs. preservation

Back in April, my family went on vacation to Arizona for spring break. One highlight was the Pink Jeep Tour in Sedona, which I described in the blog post titled thrill. Our guide explained that the Pink Jeep Tours operate on U.S. Forest Service land, not to be confused with National Park Service land. He said that the Forest Service supports conservation, while the Park Service is more focused on preservation. Seems to me that these terms are synonyms. So what is the distinction?

The way I have come to understand the difference is through examples. “Conserve” brings to mind energy conservation, conserving water and other similar initiatives. It means using things, but doing so wisely so they last into the future. “Preservation” means keeping things in their current state, frozen in time, if you will. Think butterflies under glass or the storage of historical documents.

U.S. Forest Service land is meant to be used, so you’ll see hikers, campers and other nature aficionados taking advantage of it, but in a respectful way that will allow future generations the same access. When you are on National Park Service land, you may be limited to specific trails or vantage points, with a great percentage of the acreage left unspoiled. From my layman’s perspective, it seem that the two approaches working alongside each other create a win-win method for managing natural resources.

Want to know more? Wording Matters: Conservation vs. Preservation is an excellent article that describes the two concepts and provides historical context.


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