Well, the National Park Service is getting quite a few comments on its proposed revisions to its Management Policies. So many, in fact, that the agency has decided to extend the comment period until this Saturday, the 25th.
That's pretty surprising. Not too long ago the agency was set on wrapping up the comment period in January. Then, under congressional urging, it extended the period until February 18th. And now the 25th. The Bush administration long has had a reputation for developing a mindset and sticking to it, no matter what. Perhaps those overseeing the Interior Department are beginning to realize the public is pretty concerned about the revisions.
The focus on the revisions will continue beyond this Saturday, thankfully, as the Senate parks committee has scheduled another meeting for April 4th to discuss the MPs.
Over at the National Parks Conservation Association, Senior Vice President Ron Tipton believes Americans already have sent a strong message to NPS leaders: Drop the rewrite.
"America wanted this rewrite process abandoned," he says. "We will be keeping a close eye to ensure that the Park Service and the Department of Interior allow full public involvement in the next phase of this process."
According to NPCA, already more than 75,000 individuals have submitted comments to the Park Service. That's on top of the comments sent by The Wilderness Society, NPCA, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Outdoor Industry Association, Garden Club of America, American Lung Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation, American Hiking Society, Association of National Park Rangers, National Coalition for History, even the National Council of Churches.
Also outspoken in its opposition has been the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. Additionally, Interior Secretary Gale Norton and NPS Director Fran Mainella have received letters of opposition from Senators Arlen Specter, Dianne Feinstein, Lamar Alexander, and Ken Salazar, as well as from House members Nancy Pelosi, Nick Rahall, Donna Christian-Christensen, and Nancy Johnson.
Plus, Congressman Brian Baird, who has co-authored the National Parks Centennial Act with hopes it can get the Park Service maintenance backlog wiped out by 2016, and 35 co-signers wrote Secretary Norton last week to protest the revisions. (Oddly absent from the co-signers was Rep. Mark Souder, who helped Baird carry the Centennial Act legislation)
"Americans want to ensure that the protection of our national parks is not compromised," says Tipton. "This outpouring of national concern must be listened to."
And if you haven't already filed your comments, this link will help you get the job done.