Here's hoping that when the voters send Representative Richard Pombo back to California as a private citizen, he takes Stevan Pearce with him, for he's no friend of the national park system.
Unless, of course, you want to further commercialize the parks and swing open their gates to more motorized recreation.
Representative Pearce, you see, seems to think the park system is broken because visitation is not on a continual rise. With that mindset, I wonder what he thinks of the New York Stock Exchange?
Anyway, while Mr. Pombo put the good Mr. Pearce in charge of the House subcommittee on national parks, he sure doesn't seem to be looking out for the the national park system. You'd think a man in his position, if he is so greatly concerned with the plight of the parks, would work harder to see the National Park Service's budget boosted to the point where at least the system breaks even.
Too, you'd think he'd be a member of the Congressional National Parks Caucus. But he's not. In fact, when 36 members of the House wrote
then-Interior Secretary Gale Norton back in February with a request
that she direct the Park Service to abandon its rewrite of the agency's
Management Policies, Mr. Pearce's signature was nowhere to be found. Perhaps that's not so surprisingly when you realize that his business background is in the oil industry.
However, this past August, shortly before Fran was going to sign the revised policies into being, his, and only his, signature was on a letter asking her to tweak the policies. Among the changes he supported was one that the Park Service get out of the wilderness business and another that it not fret so much over human-caused noise.
Yes, the gentleman from New Mexico is not a warm friend of the park system. Let's not forget that earlier this year he appointed a "Park Visitation Working Group" that was comprised solely of groups holding an economic interest in park visitation. Not a single parks advocacy group was represented.
And it was Mr. Pearce, in his role as parks subcommittee chair, who handpicked the witnesses for his hearing late last year into the National Park Service Organic Act. It was a telling list, too, one tilted with critics of how the national park system is being run.
Most recently Mr. Pearce introduced legislation that, if ever enacted, could theoretically turn hiking paths through national parks into roads.
Hell, this guy can't even gain approval from Republicans for Environmental Protection, which actually gave him a negative rating for his 2005 votes on issues pertinent to the environment. You can learn more about Mr. Pearce's voting record at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee website.
Here's hoping that if Mr. Pearce manages to win re-election that at least the Democrats take control of the House so he loses his chairmanship.