Last week computer problems forced the National Park Service to extend the period for people to comment on revisions proposed to the agency's Management Policies. Now the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees wants the agency to give the public more time to comment on the proposed changes.
In noting that the Park Service's email system failed at least four times during the recent comment period, the coalition believes it would only be fair to give the public two more weeks to comment.
"This whole process has been a comedy of errors, including the inability of NPS to keep the official comment period open prior to its closing," says Bill Wade, the chairman of the coalition's executive council. "People trying to submit comments received a message from the NPS web site that it was 'overloaded' or 'under maintenance.' This is particularly troubling given that the NPS told the public that the web site was the 'preferred way to comment on the policies.'
"We would like to see NPS reopen the comment for at least two full weeks, and this time actually make sure the public knows about the extension."
That last comment stemmed from the agency's decision to make a brief mention on its web site that it was extending the period last week.
Rick Smith, a coalition member whose lengthy NPS career included a stint as an associate regional director, says that when the coalition notified the NPS that people were having trouble submitted comments electronically, it was told that the system has been "spammed or blitzed by people making comments."
"This is indicative of the cynical attitude that the NPS seems to have about public comment periods," says Smith. "Members of the public who are trying to respond to an NPS invitation to comment on the revised policies are considered spammers or blitzers. Such an attitude does little to inspire confidence in the willingness of the NPS to seriously consider the comments that it receives."