We greet with enthusiasm the announcement that communities with emotional and economic ties to contiguous national park lands, forests and reserves have banded together to support the wilderness resources so dear to U.S. citizens and foreign visitors alike.

Calling itself the National Alliance of Gateway Communities (NAGP), the nascent organization plans to lobby Congress and work with federal agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management on key policy issues involving public lands.

A spokesman for the alliance, an outgrowth of a western states tourism conference staged last year in Tacoma, Wash., noted that its members -- so-called gateway communities -- are particularly dependent on the revenue generated by travel and tourism to our national parks.

For this reason, we think it is particularly appropriate that the NAGP comprises representatives of local governments, chambers of commerce, businesses and tourism organizations -- real-world constituencies with experience in getting things done.

We have every confidence that the alliance, as a consequence of taking its case directly to Washington, will represent the public trust while advocating the interests of its members.

A sinking feeling

We have to wonder about plans to develop a hotel casino on the Las Vegas Strip called the Titanic Resort. Has anyone checked with market research? If ever there were an unfortunate metaphor appropriate to a flat-broke gambler, it would have to be the image of a ship going under in the North Atlantic. As one longtime bettor put it, "Why would I stay at the Titanic? I'm already drowning in debt."

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