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A couple of summers ago, my brother and I road-tripped cross-country . We hit an awesome highway southwest out of Billings, Mont. It wound us through the mountains and ended up heading us straight into Yellowstone Park. After days of cool highways through real, populated America, Yellowstone was like a chilly museumfull of really neat stuff, but somehow pristinely fake, like the Alpine landscape behind a Mercedes ad. As it turns out, of course, national parks are every bit as affected by the population, and often in just as much transition, as the rest of the national landscape, but the factors shaping them are different. Learn about them as a whole slew of politicians, bureaucrats, scholars, and activists try to suss out the present and future of parks and public lands at the National Building Museum symposium “Accessing America’s National Parks and Public Lands: In Search of Balance.” From 8:15 a.m.-5:15 p.m. at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. $55-70. For reservations call (202) 272-2448. (Michael Schaffer)