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Big Bend - Some sort of scenic beauty: Land Use and the Establishment of Big Bend National Park

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Setting aside large tracts of land for preservation and public use was a unique idea in the late nineteenth-century United States as the country focused on westward expansion and development. However, rather than moving to protect land untouched by human hands, the creation of the National Park System includes stories of people already using these spaces in a variety of ways. In 1872, the world’s first national park, Yellowstone, was established out of publicly held lands formerly occupied by Native Americans. Seventy-two years later, Big Bend National Park was formed in the Chihuahuan Desert of southwest Texas out of private land parcels acquired by the State of Texas in the early 1940s.

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