Things figure to get pretty interesting in Washington in the coming months as the Democratically-controlled Congress takes a closer-than-Republican look at just how the Bush administration is running the National Park Service.
Over at the House Natural Resources Committee, which is chaired by West Virginia Democrat Nick Joe Rahall, the developing agenda calls for examining everything from the slaughter of Yellowstone's bison to George's centennial campaign.
I managed to come across Representative Rahall's "Proposed Oversight Plan" for the 110th Congress, and he has a good handful of parks-related concerns. For instance:
Yellowstone Bison: "After six years and millions of dollars, implementation of the 2000 Yellowstone Bison Management Plan has not proceeded beyond the first phase of the plan. Thousands of bison have been slaughtered under the plan and the committee will explore ways to protect and properly manage these living symbols of America."
National Park Centennial Challenge: "The so-called 'Centennial Challenge' is lacking in details and little appears to have been done thus far. (Ouch!) The committee will examine the program to determine how the administration is meeting its responsibility as stewards for some of the most important elements of our national heritage."
Recreation Fees: "On January 1st, federal agencies rolled out a new 'America the Beautiful Pass.' That pass replaces others that were less costly to visitors to our national parks and public lands attractions. The result is that individuals who want to continue to enjoy these American treasures are having to pay 23 percent to 60 percent more than in the past to do so. The National Park Service is the largest collector of recreation fees, but the committee will look at the fee programs of all agencies to see where, why, and how such fees are being collected and used."
Congressman Rahall also is concerned about the outsourcing of federal jobs, but I'm going to address that issue in a separate post.
Now, this isn't to say that there will be formal oversight hearings, but it sounds like we can certainly expect to see some letter exchanges and at least some cursory inquiries into these areas.