If you were the chairman of a congressional committee, wouldn't you want to gather as much information as possible on the issues you confront? Wouldn't you want to hear from all sides of an argument, to take in all points of view, before you reach a decision?
Perhaps I'm being too idealistic, too naive to actually believe that our congressfolk try to do what's best for the country, to act as true statesmen and women, rather than politicians wedded to certain blocs (sadly, usually the ones that fund your campaigns.)
Of late, Stevan Pearce from New Mexico seems to prefer blinders when he chairs the House subcommittee on national parks. When he held a hearing on the National Park Service's Management Policies earlier this summer, he only wanted to hear from Fran. When he wrote her the other day to propose changes to the Management Policies, he did so on committee stationary, but with only his signature...leading me to wonder what the other committee members thought of his proposals.
I'm not the only one wondering. Here's a letter one of the congressman's constituents wrote to the Carlsbad newspaper.
To The Editor:
As a member of the Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees, I was upset when a colleague, Rick Smith, former Superintendent of Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks, and now a resident of Placitas, N.M., was advised by our Congressman Pearce that he does not respond to mail from outside his district. Well, Congressman Pearce also serves as the chair of the House sub-committee on parks, and indeed the National Park Service is "National," not "District," and citizens who do not reside in NM's 2nd district certainly have a right to be heard and responded to regarding important issues related to the national park system, and by the chair of this sub-committee.
The coalition represents over 500 National Park Service retirees, primarily upper and mid-level managers, including former NPS directors, regional directors and park superintendents. Our concerns relating to the current administration's attempts to privatise park operations, and reduce the congressional mandate for preserving the park resources, even proposals to sell off NPS units, while increasing the impacts of all types of park visitor use, have been very instrumental in the Senate and House taking a harder look at these destructive proposals and nixing the majority of them.
For the congressman to have the nerve to say that he will not respond to important matters related to our national park system unless you reside in his district gives us some measure of just how important the values of these national treasures, and the interests of the citizens who use them, are to the congressman and his subcommittee. In addition, those citizens who use any national public lands should be aware by now that the emphasis of this administration is directed by energy and minerals purveyors, with increased emphasis on disposition of public lands, maximization of resource use and minimum protection of recreational, scenic, wildlife, resource protection, wilderness or scientific values. When these values are disrupted friends and neighbors, you and I and many generations in the future will mourn their loss, and enjoy only pictures and memories of what we once had.
These are tough times folks, but these are also our public lands and resources, and not providing adequate environmental protections or government oversight of their use is criminal and ultimately destroys any opportunities for other public uses, wildlife protection and especially any essence of wilderness values in the future.
If you want to test the gatekeeper of Mr. Pearce's email, check out this site and see if he responds. If that doesn't work and you still want to let him know your thoughts on the national parks, here's his Washington address and phone number:
1607 Longworth HOB
Washington DC 20515