Rumor has it that logic and common sense are prevailing in the National Park Service's ill-fated bid to redirect its mission of protecting and preserving that magical place called the national park system.
Yep, today the NPS is releasing its latest version of how its Management Policies should read. The policies, as those who closely follow the Traveler know, guide park superintendents when it comes to making on-the-ground decisions.
Without going into detail, know that the latest version will be out today and sent off to the NPS troops in the field for their consideration. I'm also told that the document will be located somewhere on the Park Service's web site.
Now, unfortunately, I'm traveling today and tomorrow and won't be
able to give a blow-by-blow accounting of the latest version. But I'm
told by none other than Bill Wade of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees that this version is actually pretty decent.
Not only does it restore the very important Foundation Chapter of the MPs -- the section that clearly lays down that the Park Service "must manage park resources and values in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations" -- but it's also the chapter that places preservation before public enjoyment of the parks.
Now, Bill's comments to me were based on a draft he had seen a couple weeks ago, so the wording could have been tweaked a bit by the time today's version was released. However, if the copy Bill saw was the final version, it sounds like the Park Service got the job right this time.
Here's what Bill told me of the document he saw:
"Evidently the NPS career professionals who prepared it went back to the 2001 version as their foundation, instead of trying to fix the still deeply flawed version that the public commented on, I’m told this work group took the important comments received during the public review process, along with their own understanding of needs for updating, and that they were not subjected to political influence or pressure.
"The resulting draft eliminates all of the offending changes earlier proposed in the Foundation Chapter – arguably the most important chapter – which directly interprets the legislated mission of the NPS. There are other improvements and updating that, in my opinion, will result in the policies being as good as, or better than the 2001 version – assuming there isn’t any last-minute political interference."
If that's the case, we can put this chapter of Park Service strife behind us...at least for the immediate future...unless Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne's new staff doesn't like the wording.