OK, I was wrong. I didn't plan to jump back into the whole National Park Service Management Policies brouhaha until Thursday. But I just learned of a letter two members of Congress have written to NPS Director Fran Mainella and have to share it with you.
In a nutshell, Reps. Nick Rahall Nick Rahall of West Virginia and Donna Christensen of the Virgin Islands ask that the NPS "halt this rewrite of the Management Policies and redirect its energies to meeting the standards of excellence set forth in the existing document."
Rahall and Christensen are Democrats. Rahall is the ranking Democrat on the full House Resources Committee, while Christensen is the ranking Democrat on the House parks subcommittee. The two obviously aren't taking the proposed revisions to the Management Policies lightly, as they wrote a four-page letter to Director Mainella, which says something.
But don't be misled into thinking this is a Democrat conspiracy to put out a message that the Bush administration is messing up the national park system. Already a number of Republicans have written to both Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Director Mainella to express their dissatisfaction with this effort.
Among the highlights of the Rahall-Christensen letter that was dispatched to Director Mainella today are these gems:
* "Withdrawal of this proposal is necessary if the agency is to retain the confidence of the Congress and, more important, the public."
* The administration apparently undertook a radical rewrite of the Management Policies ... not as a substantive exercise but rather as a salvo in a long-running ideological, and often political, battle over resource management issues within the National Park System. Using the Management Policies as a weapon in that battle is a mistake.
* "The National Park Service appears to be continuing this rewrite not because it is warranted but because it would be embarrassing to abandon what the administration started."
* "While claiming to provide clarity, the draft lacks precision regarding the National Park service's conservation mission and appears to create unwarranted latitude to allow harmful resource impacts."
* "Overall, the new draft Management Policies is disjointed and confused, stitching together some of the worst of the first draft with long sections that, after being scrubbed of political influence, are left simply vague and unhelpful. In too many instances, what is now clear policy is to be replaced with fuzzy 'guidance' providing park managers little useful information. This flawed rewrite process, begun in secret and without expertise, has progressed in awkward fits and starts to produce a result inferior to the existing Policies."
Well put, don't you think?