The man who gave us "Compassionate Conservatism" is now ready to move ahead with a "new environmentalism" his PR folks have dubbed "Cooperative Conservation." Next week in St. Louis the Bush administration will oversee a three-day, invitation-only conference that some environmentalists fear will lead to less federal oversight of our public lands -- including national parks -- in favor of local control.
Here's how Interior Secretary Gale Norton frames it: "Ultimately, the people who are best able to take care of the land are those who live on the land, work on the land, and love the land. They have the knowledge, skills and motivation to care for the land. We need to empower them."
And here's how Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope reacted a year ago when the president signed an Executive Order, without any congressional input, to put his "new environmentalism" into motion: "The Bush administration has had almost four years to demonstrate a commitment to conservation, but instead it has turned back the clock on a century of environmental progress and achieved the worst environmental record in U.S. history."
While National Park Service Director Fran Mainella is expected to attend the conference, somehow the National Parks Conservation Association didn't merit an invite.
I'll have more on this story, so stay tuned....