We'll soon see how strongly Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne reallly feels about the latest version of the National Park Service's Management Policies.
When that version debuted in June, Kempthorne was solidly behind it, particularly the section about placing conservation of park lands above all else when it comes to managing the parks. Well, now it turns out that there's at least one member of Congress who isn't quite happy with the way the Management Policies reads and wants to question Fran on her thoughts.
Come Tuesday, July 25th, Representative Steven Pearce of New Mexico will gavel his House parks subcommittee to order to discuss the MPs with Fran.
I'm told that Fran will be the only witness questioned by Pearce's subcommittee. That should make for some interesting chit-chat, don't you think? I mean, soon after the latest version was released, Fran preened and said how wonderful it was, that not only does the rewrite very closely resemble the 2001 edition -- which top NPS and DOI officials had previously dissed -- but is a document that "stands solidly by our mission."
Now, on the other side of the fence, the power boating industry, those folks who would like to see Jet Skis and their like skimming across as many national park waterscapes as possibly, bitterly decried the latest version, asserting that NPS officials were "being held hostage" by groups interested in minimal access to the parks.
The fact that Rep. Pearce wants to pick Fran's brain on the Management Policies is not good news. Pearce was handed his chairmanship by Rep. Richard Pombo, who wouldn't mind selling off a park or two and gutting the Endangered Species Act and a few other environmental laws.
I wouldn't imagine Congressman Pearce going against his boss's wishes. If you recall, back in December a hearing into the National Park Service's Organic Act was held by Congressman Pearce's subcommittee, and while it reached no conclusion on whether the act should be tinkered with, the fact that the hearing was held nonetheless raised the concerns of more than a few park advocacy groups.
Too, apparently the American Recreation Coalition, that strong supporter of motorized recreation across federal lands, is urging its members to contact Fran and point out ARC's concerns over not just the Organic Act in general but also such specific aspects of the Management Policies as natural soundscapes, park uses, and wilderness regulations.
Back in February I posted a piece that outlined where ARC stood on the Management Policies. It's a post that provides some insightful background that helps explain what currently is transpiring. Congressman Pearce's subcommittee also held a hearing into the policies back in February, and among the testimony it received were some strong points on national park conservation delivered by prominent retired NPS officials. You can review their testimony here.
Now, if you want to ensure that the deck isn't entirely stacked against the current version of the Management Policies, please consider emailing both Rob Howarth, the staff director of Pearce's subcommittee, at [email protected] as well as Fran at [email protected], to let them know where you stand on protection and conservation of the national parks.