Since the latest draft of the National Park Service's Management Policies came out in June, it's been endorsed by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, Fran, and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, a bunch of gals and guys who total, oh, somewhere around 15,000 years of cumulative Park Service experience.
Today, Representative Steve Pearce said he wasn't happy with the draft in its current form.
"I am very concerned that the final draft, while making some notable improvements, appears to retreat back to the 2001 Management Policies, which failed to provide an effective balance between enhancing visitor enjoyment and conservation. Achieving such balance remains a critical priority," says Rep. Pearce.
I am very concerned that the gentleman from New Mexico might derail the public's determination to see that our national parks are conserved for future generations.
Congressman Pearce seems to be overlooking a number of things, notable among them the outpouring of public comment in favor of a set of Management Policies that toe the National Park Service Organic Act's dictate that conservation of the national parks take precedence over all other uses.
Of course, some folks -- particularly those from the American Recreation Coalition, who seem to believe motorized recreation should be the hallmark of this great country, and Congressman Richard Pombo, the California Republican who hasn't seen an environmental law he would embrace and who has suggested, supposedly tongue in cheek, that some park units be sold off to pay the government's bills -- don't seem to be big fans of conserving our national park system so our kids, grand kids and on and on can experience the wonders that our generation has.
(Earlier this month, I pointed out out ARC's march to have its membership lobby Fran over its unhappiness with the Management Policies draft.)
Unfortunately, I couldn't make it to Washington for today's hearing, but if anyone out there did, please fill us in. Fran was the only witness to testify, but Congressman Pearce's parks subcommittee hasn't posted her testimony, so who knows what she told them.
In a release from his committee, Mr. Pearce seemed stuck on an interpretation that the NPS's Organic Act directs that the Park Service's main mission be to "conserve and provide for" the public's enjoyment. Perhaps he needs to reread the Organic Act, or study the so-called "Wink's Paper" that delves into the wording of the Organic Act in an effort to discern exactly what its authors, and Congress, were thinking when the Organic Act was written and passed.
You can find a link to the letter by checking out this post, which covers a hearing Rep. Pearce's subcommittee held last fall on the Organic Act. The link is near the bottom of the post.
Anyway, I find it odd that Congressman Pearce, who was appointed to his chairmanship by Congressman Pombo, who many view as the environment's No. 1 enemy, has problems with the current draft of the Management Policy. As Fran likes to point out, 96 percent of park visitors are happy with their experiences. Doesn't sound to me as if the public's enjoyment of the parks is being denied.
Frankly, Congressman Pearce and his colleagues should be more concerned that inadequate funding of the parks is a greater threat to their condition and the public's continued enjoyment than the latest version of the Management Policies.