House Resources Considers Legislation To Increase National Park Properties

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona

The House Natural Resources Committee today is considering legislation that calls for studies to determine whether the national park system should grow even larger and whether the National Trails System should be expanded.

H.R. 3998, dubbed "America's Historical and Natural Legacy Study Act," was introduced by Rep. Raul Grijalva, the Arizona Democrat who chairs the House National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee.

Studies called for in the legislation would look into whether:

*The Wolf House, the oldest public structure in Arkansas, should be added to the national park system;

* The Harry S Truman Birthplace State Historic Site in Lamar, Missouri, should be added to the Harry S Truman National Historic Site or designating the site as a separate unit of the National Park System;

* "Eastern Legacy sites" should be added onto the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail;

* Historic areas in Matewan, West Virginia, that were involved in bloody battles between coal miners and their companies in 1920 should be added to the national park system;

* The site of the Battle of Camden fought in South Carolina on August 16, 1780, and the site of Historic Camden, which is currently a National Park System Affiliated Area, should be designated as a site, or sites, of the national park system;

* The route of the Mississippi River in the counties contiguous to the river from its headwaters in the State of Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico might be added to the National Trails System;

* Fort San Geronimo, located near Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, should be attached to the San Juan National Historic Site;

* The area known as the Rim of the Valley Corridor, generally including the mountains encircling the San Fernando, La Crescenta, Santa Clarita, Simi, and Conejo Valleys in California, should be made a unit of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area;

* The Stranahan House, located at 335 S.E. 6th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as well as the adjacent property at 500 East Las Olas Boulevard, where portions of the trading post and the campsite were located, should be made a unit of the national park system, and;

* The `Ox-Bow Route' of the Butterfield Overland Trail in the States of Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California should be added to the National Trails System.

Comments

Goodness me, I can't believe Beamis or Frank haven't chimed in on this one yet! But...on to the next Simple Proposal:

As a long-time NPS employee, I've been to my share of meetings about uniform standards. To many in the agency, wearing of the uniform is so sacred that we must never get comfortable with current uniform standards. We must meet to discuss and tweak the standards, else we might forget about the uniform. And forgetting about the uniform is nothing short of sacrilege...punishable by...more meetings about the uniform!

Someone once told me that a certain park's management was so obsessed with the NPS uniform they actually convened a meeting to debate whether or not it's appropriate for a pen to be visible in your pocket. Your tax dollars at work? Fork it over, Bub!

The above comments being said, most of us acknowledge the value of wearing a presentable uniform: it allows visitors to easily recognize their public servants in the field. Period.

As I see it, the uniform is a microcosm of yet another of the agency's ills: an obsession with image to the point of waste. Regarding image, we should be paying more attention to what VISITORS are seeing. If they're seeing (and complaining about) unmaintained trails, trashed bathrooms, and rude entrance station employees, we should be paying attention.

If visitors are complaining about whether or not we're wearing poplin vs. summer tropical shirts, hiking boots vs. rocky walkers, or pens in our pockets, we should also be concerned...

...so...when's the last time you've heard visitors complain about pens in pockets?

Simple Proposal #12: Worry Less About Image, More About Substance

Bart: On this topic, I figured I'd said enough about pork and the over extension of resources.

Anyway, while your Simple Proposal may not address the increase of NPS property, it is yet another fine example of outside-the-box thinking the NPS needs. It's pretty darn funny, too. I feel compelled to comment about my experience regarding the uniform at SEKI. During evening programs, we were required to wear a long sleeved shirt, tie, wool dress jacket, wool pants. Sometimes it was in the 80s during the EP, and we were required to build a raging fire, which added to our discomfort. I had sweat streaming down my face from the leather band in my flat hat, and I often felt like I was on the verge of fainting. Absolutely ridiculous! Additionally, at ZION we were not allowed to wear shorts in a desert environment where the temps frequently soared to 115. Are you kidding me? Finally, at LABE the chief ranger berated seasonals for having scuffs on their boots after leading a hike through a lava tube cave (sorry, basalt can be quite sharp!). Meanwhile, everytime Mr. Chief Ranger bent over, his buttcrack spilled out! Rangers should get dirty and should be allowed to be dirty in uniform. It's proof that they've been ranging!

It seems to me that the NPS suffers from a false-god syndrome. Instead of focusing attention on nature and ranging, some employees worship uniforms, regulations, and so on. False gods. Image. Where's the substance? Good points, Bart. I still hope the editors give you some space for your Simple Proposals. Your regular contributions to NPT would be an asset.

I didn't know that there were plumbers doubling as rangers. That explains alot. Too much information Frank!

Since you brought up the uniform thingy, I have a way to improve image and work accomplishment. It's also an appropriate response in light of the Veteran's holiday. If the NPS would quit bending the hiring process to the "What can we get away with" extreme and advertise positions based on the work function rather than building PD's that will get the good ole boys hired they will end up with a more "Proud and Professional " workforce. I am not saying that the present workforce is not hard working and proud of their accomplishments. I am pointing out that Veteans have loads of training in Leadership and management coupled with a work ethic that those who have not served could not begin to understand. The NPS has very limited training resources and should take advantage of the existing experience and training in the Veteran workforce.

Having worked in more parks than I can count on one hand, and being a Service Connected Disabled Veteran I feel qualified to comment on this subject. I have felt the bite of the animosity held by non veteran hiring officials who throw out certs because "they re-evaluated their needs". I cannot count the number of times that I have heard that a cert was ruined by the dammned veterans. I am not supporting that all veteran applicants be hired....I support hiring the best qualified and best fit.

Several things would result from hiring the best qualified candidate. You would have leadership who understands the phrase of "Doing more with Less". Uniform standards would be taken to a whole new level. I was very proud of my career in the military and my uniform showed it at ALL times. I am even more proud of the Green and Grey and believe I have a responsability to represent the NPS in a professional manner at ALL times. Finally there would be an atmosphere of employee development and constant improvement. I would no longer have my evaluation thrown on the desk with a response of "here sign this".

For all those who served, THANK YOU

Frank:

Maybe Ranger Butt-Crack was merely trying to present an appropriate option for the placement of a pen?

We've all heard the old cliche. Government workers are lazy, worthless, shiftless. Good thing they have brooms to lean on, or else they'd all be horizontal.

That may be true with some agencies, but the cliche disintegrates when it comes to the NPS. Many of the organization's employees, in fact, are quite the opposite of lazy. They're extremely diligent...often to the tune of 12-hour days and 60-hour weeks. I once had a supervisor who worked so hard this person literally RAN down the hallway of our headquarters building!

This WASPish work ethic may sound great on the surface, but it's yet another of many veiled failings. One reason is that the workaholic makes his/her coworkers and/or staff think they'd better work equally feverishly, or they won't rate. Suddenly working into the wee hours on a report that no one will read becomes more important than spending time with one's family. What a boost to morale!

Equally insidious is the loss of focus that workaholism creates in a staff. If folks are working obsessively, everything they're doing must be hugely important. Suddenly meaningless bureaucratic tasks are given equal value to the truly important matters, such as updating bulletin boards, repairing vehicles, and picking up trash. Eventually, the importance of these latter tasks becomes diluted in the flurry of activity that workaholics create.

It's all rather ironic, really. Here we are, charged with managing the kinds of places Everett Reuss and John Muir described as sanctuaries from the madness of "civilization." But nowadays it seems preferable to foster an atmoshpere of frantic deadlines and constant crisis.

When's the last time you heard an NPS employee at a meeting say "I don't care!"? Our culture has conditioned us to brand such "apathy" as abhorrent. But saying "I don't care!" may really be another way of demanding, "Let's get our priorities straight!" The priorities of the NPS were spelled out nearly a century ago--very simply--with the Mission (I'll leave defining the Mission's exact interpretation to other dialog, Frank). Let's get back to it.

Simple Proposal #11: Walk--Don't Run--Down the Hallway!

No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.

PS: Two books on workaholism:

Work to Live: The Guide to Getting a Life, by Joe Robinson
CrazyBusy, by Edward Hallowell