It's a done deal, and apparently one without any last-minute hanky-panky.
Yep, Fran signed off on the 2006 Management Policies. Not the version Paul Hoffman once envisioned, but rather a more conservation-oriented edition, one that doesn't compromise the public's ability to enjoy the parks but does ensure the Park Service's overriding mandate is to see that our national parks are conserved for future generations.
Of course, what remains to be seen is whether the agency actually adheres to the updated guidelines, or turns a blind eye when it comes to snowmobiles, personal watercraft and other polluting toys.
As Kristen Brengal of The Wilderness Society put it today, "From Yellowstone to the Everglades, park managers will have guidelines that promote a healthy future for all parks. We commend the administration for finalizing this preservation-oriented version, but the true test will be their implementation, especially when it comes to wilderness designation and protection and snowmobile, Jet Ski, and off-road vehicle use."
Over at the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, Bill Wade applauded the final version.
"This is a significant victory for Americans who care deeply about their national parks and want them preserved for their children and grandchildren and not, as some have been advocating, turned into drivers for the economic gain of a few and opened up for rampant motorized recreational uses," he says. "We commend the National Park Service career professionals for standing up to the pressure and defeating the earlier drafts foisted on the NPS by political operatives in the Department of the Interior."
During the course of the past year more than 45,000 comments were received by the Park Service as it mulled how to update the 2001 version of the MPs. Over the past month the American Recreation Coalition put on an intense lobbying campaign to tweak the policies one last time, but apparently had no success. I say "apparently" because I haven't sifted through the final document yet.
You can take a look at the Management Policies by visiting this site.
Fran thinks they're in pretty good shape.
"The 2006 Management Policies set a positive tone and make clear the National Park Service’s desire for people to visit and enjoy their national parks,” she says. “These policies emphasize the importance of cooperative conservation and civic engagement in our decision-making.”
That said, I'm a tad leery of those buzz words: "cooperative conservation" and "civic engagement." They came into the Park Service's lexicon just about a year ago when then-Interior Secretary Gale Norton began stressing the need to involve gateway communities in Park Service decisions.
While gateway communities do an incredible job in serving the national parks, their interests shouldn't outweigh those of Americans throughout the country when it comes to making on-the-ground management decisions in the parks. The communities should have strong economies, but not to the detriment of the parks.