An Evolution of Landscape and Meaning: Gettysburg National Military Park and Mesa Verde National Park

Adrienne M. Ellis, Gettysburg College

Environmental Studies Honors Thesis

Faculty Advisor: Professor Randy Wilson


The 1990s proved to be a turning point in the decision-making processes and subsequent interpretation changes for both Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania and Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Through historical records and personal interviews, this study analyzes the integration of collaborative management in both parks and how it affected integral changes. At Gettysburg National Military Park, the development of a General Management Plan (in 1999) sought advice and input from the public to a higher degree than they had previously. This led to a plan more focused on reestablishing the park to its 1863 appearance and the establishment of a new visitor center. At Mesa Verde National Park, managers turned to the Puebloan ancestor nations in the region and worked collaboratively to develop a new Visitor and Research Center that catered to their needs and proved more historically accurate. These two parks act as examples of the emergence and success of collaborative decision-making on public lands and how significantly these efforts can act as catalysts to interpretive change.