“To argue that only five per cent of the park areas is developed,” Butcher replied to Olson, “ignores the principle that any intrusion shatters the whole.”
The then–U.S. Senator Clinton P. Anderson of New Mexico wrote a diplomatic response. As the chairman of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, he supported the Wilderness Bill, which was before the committee. This measure, along with a bill that would protect certain shoreline areas, Anderson wrote, was “made urgent by the burgeoning demands of a growing population.”
E. C. Robertson of Silver Spring, Maryland, wrote that the articles were “important and useful in stirring the American people to stop the encroachment of civilization on the wilderness.” But Robertson worried that the authors’ argument for less development was exclusionary: “There are whole generations … who have exactly the same right to see the wilderness as they do.” Robertson continued, “Are Butcher, Van Fleet, and Brooks the only men in the country who can enjoy nature? No, they will be the first to say. But, are Butcher, Van Fleet, and Brooks the only men who know how to enjoy nature? Well, almost, they will say.”
“Before your readers take Mr. Butcher’s unconstructive diatribe too seriously,” H. Oehlmann, the executive vice president of visitor services at Yosemite wrote, they should know that “sitting in my office some years ago, [Butcher] seriously told me that if he had his way, all visitors to Yosemite Valley would come by bicycle from El Portal.” The ride, Oehlmann wrote, was 14 miles from Yosemite Village, and climbed 2,000 feet in about five miles. “Anyone for a bicycle?” he asked.
The wishes of the citizens for “whose welfare the national parks were established … should not be denied to comply with the selfish demands of a small group of nature worshipers,” Antoinette Friedman of Washington, D.C., wrote. If the authors—whom she referred to as “the evangelists of the wilderness cult”—spent “one tenth” of the time they spent on “preserving the wilderness of the West” developing “adequate recreational facilities for citizens of the crowded industrial East,” she suggested, they would be providing a service “rewarding to human beings as well as to nature.”
It is “inconceivable that people would or could enjoy a great park like Yellowstone” if legislation cut back on infrastructure, requiring them to travel longer distances within the park and from their hotel to the park and back, Horace Marden Albright of New York City wrote: “They would take just one look and keep going. Most travelers do not have more than two weeks’ vacation.”
Albright, the editors noted below his letter, was the second director of the NPS, had served 10 years as the superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, and was one of the four men who organized the Civilian Conservation Corps.