Reader Participation Day: Which Works Harder for National Parks, A Republican or Democratic Congress?
With the general election less than a week off, the Traveler is venturing into perilous territory by delving into politics. Still, the question begs asking: Do you believe national parks are better off with a Republican-controlled Congress, or one with a Democratic majority?
On its face, this seems like an easy question to answer. After all, former U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo, a Republican from California, didn't appear to be a big fan of national parks, and at one point supposedly joked about selling off units of the National Park System or at least opening them up to mining.
And then there was former U.S. Rep. Jim Hansen, a Republican from Utah, who wouldn't have minded if Great Basin National Park were jettisoned from the system.
But the late-Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyoming, was an ardent supporter of the national parks and worked to see funding for the Park Service increased. His memory lives on in the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Grand Teton National Park.
And U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, can't be overlooked either for his support of the parks. He didn't think the Bush administration, with Fran Mainella at the helm of the National Park Service, needed to rewrite the agency's Management Policies back in 2006, has championed legislation to clean airsheds over parks, and opposed the so-called "Road to Nowhere" in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Of course, this question should be qualified by specifying that it applies just to the current colors of the Republican and Democratic parties. Teddy Roosevelt was a member of the Grand Old Party and was quite a conservationist, and President Nixon endorsed the Endangered Species Act.
So, with the prospect of the control of Congress changing hands in next week's election, which party do you think would do the best for the national parks as the National Park Service approaches its centennial in 2016?