Ahh, Dirk is a finely tuned politician. He knows how to answer a question without saying anything.
Today at the Outdoor Retailers convention in Salt Lake City the Interior Secretary declined to say he was completely happy with the current version of the National Park Service's Management Policies and that there would be no further changes.
Frankly, I wasn't too surprised by his answer. After all, the American Recreation Coalition is putting on a full-court press to tweak the MPs, and most likely with changes that could open the national park system to more motorized uses and other commercial intrusions. Still, back in June when the latest version was released, Dirk himself touted their form.
"I don't know if there will be any modifications at this point in the final product," Dirk replied today when I asked whether the current version would stand up to the ARC's strong lobbying effort.
"We still receive input. But I think, by and large, people appreciate the fact that we're saying that in the event that you do have a situation, are you going to manage so that future generations can also enjoy that resource ... might you do something that might interrupt that, and I'm not. We want to make sure that it's there for generations to come."
At the same time, he also referenced, without being specific, technological improvements, something the snowmobile and personal watercraft industries have been touting for years even though their machines still continue to pollute the air and water.
So, what the Interior secretary didn't say was just as important as what he did say. And that's concerning, as it's the fine details in documents such as the Management Policies that can have long-ranging impacts.
With that in mind, why did Dirk qualify his comment about additional modifications to the MPs and mention technological improvements? One might say he did so to leave the door open to the national park system to uses others might deem inappropriate.
Finally, it was interesting that he said he would not "do something" that would prevent future generations from enjoying the national park system. That's not exactly the same as saying he would prevent the parks from being impacted or impaired or that he would work to conserve the park system for future generations.
So stay tuned, folks. I'm afraid this battle over the rewrite of the Management Policies isn't over just yet.