"National parks" are employed as long-term capital holding vehicles for the wealthy. By "preserving" a national park, the government prevents any old schmuck from trying to use the land--to farm, hike, hunt, build on, raise a family on, et cetera. The idea that the land is being protected for natural use is a farce, except in a very few instances where a park manages to become a tourist draw and generate money for the local economy. Most protected land is parceled out in small pieces, over decades or generations, to developers looking for new prime space.
Here's how it works: you colonize a continent, exterminate most of the natives, round the rest up into concentration camps for their own good, and then realize that, despite your massive wealth, you can't turn 100% of available quality land into NEW LUXURY CONDOS--NEXT RIGHT! So, as settlers move west to establish homesteads, you use "national parks" to prevent them from settling the choicest bits of land. Oceanfront, riverfront, and mountainside property, as well as property with rich natural resources, you lock up inside the preserves. It's a bit like doing your winter canning, because you can't eat 140 pounds of strawberries in one week (unless you share them with the starving families at the bottom of the hill).
Generations later, you crack open the national parks. All of a sudden, pristine acreage becomes resort hotels that back up to more pristine acreage, which latter land is prevented from further development by the interior of the national park--and which protections drive up the value of the slice you carved out. Coal, water, oil, iron, thorium, or whatever other goodies are waiting underground can be separately developed by different holding companies.
The peons see this happen all the time, and don't care. The small national parks scattered across North America are regularly handed out by state legislatures to their friends and families for developing new business, under the pretext that the business will help the local economy by providing 300 local mining jobs at the new coal mine (for about 17 years or so) or about 300 local hospitality service jobs at the new resort hotel (for about 150 years or so).
When it's time to open a bigger jar, like the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve, the elites might be stunned. "Why," they might ask, "do you nincompoops suddenly care? You never cared, or noticed, before, after all."
"That is the purpose of the parks: to prevent you fools from accidentally building your house next to a pretty lake, where your granddaughter might later inherit it and have to be bought out for $2.5 million by one of the Hilton holding companies. If the land is "protected" from the vulgar uses of peons, it remains pristine, and can be purchased for $0 from the legislature when Hilton is ready to develop it.
Oh, and record-keeping
If you're inclined to more foreshadowing, remember how the DHS has records of all births, deaths, moves, name changes, employment, phone calls, letters, e-mails, and online purchases? Access to all those records will be restricted, of course--to protect not only national security, but the privacy of the individuals who were spied upon. 50 years from now, only the right kinds of journalists, sociologists, historians, and political scientists will have access to those records. Ergo when it comes time to release the dazzling new critical biography of [Famous/Influential Person], the elite journalist or scholar will be the only trusted source. Good connections will provide access to the "real" records.
Anyone can write about Shakespeare. In a few generations, though, you won't be able to write about anything in the humanities, and be taken seriously, unless you are one of the special, privileged scholars who has access to all the records. And, for reasons of scholarship, with greatest care given to the privacy of historical figures, government archivists will permit limited access, in special circumstances, to the top people in their respective fields. Anyone who makes arguments other than the ones from your privileged-access work is, by definition, uninformed--because they won't know what Shakespeare's buying patterns on eBay.com revealed about the true meaning of his plays.
*yawn* Nicky Hilton's correspondence home during sophomore year leadership camp, the collected text messages of Marshall Mathers, the case notes of Steven Spielberg's dermatologist, Google search terms entered by Stuart Macbride during the winter when he wrote his groundbreaking Someone Got Stabbed! Justice Scalia's favorite dessert in the Congressional Cafeteria...see how it works?