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Bad news for our National Parks?

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  • John Lovaas
    From today s New York Times. Destroying the National Parks Published: August 29, 2005 Most of us think of America s national parks as everlasting places, parts
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 29, 2005
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      From today's New York Times.

      Destroying the National Parks

      Published: August 29, 2005

      Most of us think of America's national parks as everlasting places,
      parts of the bedrock of how we know our own country. But they are
      shaped and protected by an underlying body of legislation, which is
      distilled into a basic policy document that governs their operation.
      Over time, that document has slowly evolved, but it has always
      stayed true to the fundamental principle of leaving the parks
      unimpaired for future generations. That has meant, in part,
      sacrificing some of the ways we might use the parks today in order
      to protect them for tomorrow.

      Recently, a secret draft revision of the national park system's
      basic management policy document has been circulating within the
      Interior Department. It was prepared, without consultation within
      the National Park Service, by Paul Hoffman, a deputy assistant
      secretary at Interior who once ran the Chamber of Commerce in Cody,
      Wyo., was a Congressional aide to Dick Cheney and has no park
      service experience.

      Within national park circles, this rewrite of park rules has been
      met with profound dismay, for it essentially undermines the
      protected status of the national parks. The document makes it
      perfectly clear that this rewrite was not prompted by a compelling
      change in the park system's circumstances. It was prompted by a
      change in political circumstances - the opportunity to craft a
      vision of the national parks that suits the Bush administration.

      Some of Mr. Hoffman's changes are trivial, although even apparently
      subtle changes in wording - from "protect" to "conserve," for
      instance - soften the standard used to judge the environmental
      effects of park policy.

      But there is nothing subtle about the main thrust of this rewrite.
      It is a frontal attack on the idea of "impairment." According to the
      act that established the national parks, preventing impairment of
      park resources - including the landscape, wildlife and such
      intangibles as the soundscape of Yellowstone, for instance - is
      the "fundamental purpose." In Mr. Hoffman's world, it is now merely
      one of the purposes.

      Mr. Hoffman's rewrite would open up nearly every park in the nation
      to off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and Jet Skis. According to his
      revision, the use of such vehicles would become one of the parks'
      purposes. To accommodate such activities, he redefines impairment to
      mean an irreversible impact. To prove that an activity is impairing
      the parks, under Mr. Hoffman's rules, you would have to prove that
      it is doing so irreversibly - a very high standard of proof. This
      would have a genuinely erosive effect on the standards used to
      protect the national parks.

      The pattern prevails throughout this 194-page document - easing the
      rules that limit how visitors use the parks and toughening the
      standard of proof needed to block those uses. Behind this pattern,
      too, there is a fundamental shift in how the parks are regarded. If
      the laws establishing the national park system were fundamentally
      forward-looking - if their mission, first and foremost, was
      protecting the parks for the future - Mr. Hoffman's revisions place
      a new, unwelcome and unnecessary emphasis on the present, on what he
      calls "opportunities for visitors to use and enjoy their parks."

      There is no question that we go to national parks to use and enjoy
      them. But part of the enjoyment of being in a place like Yosemite or
      the Grand Canyon is knowing that no matter how much it changes in
      the natural processes of time, it will continue to exist
      substantially unchanged.

      There are other issues too. Mr. Hoffman would explicitly allow the
      sale of religious merchandise, and he removes from the policy
      document any reference to evolution or evolutionary processes. He
      does everything possible to strip away a scientific basis for park
      management. His rules would essentially require park superintendents
      to subordinate the management of their parks to local and state
      agendas. He also envisions a much wider range of commercial activity
      within the parks.

      In short, this is not a policy for protecting the parks. It is a
      policy for destroying them.

      The Interior Department has already begun to distance itself from
      this rewrite, which it kept hidden from park service employees. But
      what Mr. Hoffman has given us is a road map of what could happen to
      the parks if Mr. Bush's political appointees are allowed to have
      their way.

      It is clear by now that Mr. Bush has no real intention of living up
      to his campaign promise to fully finance the national parks. This
      document offers a vivid picture of the divide between the National
      Park Service, whose career employees remain committed to the
      fundamental purpose of leaving the parks unimpaired, and an Interior
      Department whose political appointees seem willing to alter them
      beyond recognition, partly in the service of commercial objectives.

      Suddenly, many things - like the administration's efforts to force
      snowmobiles back into Yellowstone - seem very easy to explain.

      Sigh.

      There's another article from Friday's Los Angeles Times as well-

      http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-na-
      parks26aug26,0,1127124,full.story?coll=la-home-headlines

      We could give Paul a call today and ask him to elaborate on his
      actions; his work number is 202-208-4416; you could try 202-208-4684
      as well. An email might be appreciated too- you can reach him at
      Paul_Hoffman@...



      jl
    • Jim Martin
      So, what else did you expect from the CHIMP administration. He has been an enviornmental disaster. But hey, at least gays can t marry and he is against
      Message 2 of 3 , Aug 29, 2005
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        So, what else did you expect from the CHIMP
        administration. He has been an enviornmental
        disaster.

        But hey, at least gays can't marry and he is against
        abortion. Right fundies?

        --- John Lovaas <jlovaas@...> wrote:

        > From today's New York Times.
        >
        > Destroying the National Parks
        >
        > Published: August 29, 2005
        >
        > Most of us think of America's national parks as
        > everlasting places,
        > parts of the bedrock of how we know our own country.
        > But they are
        > shaped and protected by an underlying body of
        > legislation, which is
        > distilled into a basic policy document that governs
        > their operation.
        > Over time, that document has slowly evolved, but it
        > has always
        > stayed true to the fundamental principle of leaving
        > the parks
        > unimpaired for future generations. That has meant,
        > in part,
        > sacrificing some of the ways we might use the parks
        > today in order
        > to protect them for tomorrow.
        >
        > Recently, a secret draft revision of the national
        > park system's
        > basic management policy document has been
        > circulating within the
        > Interior Department. It was prepared, without
        > consultation within
        > the National Park Service, by Paul Hoffman, a deputy
        > assistant
        > secretary at Interior who once ran the Chamber of
        > Commerce in Cody,
        > Wyo., was a Congressional aide to Dick Cheney and
        > has no park
        > service experience.
        >
        > Within national park circles, this rewrite of park
        > rules has been
        > met with profound dismay, for it essentially
        > undermines the
        > protected status of the national parks. The document
        > makes it
        > perfectly clear that this rewrite was not prompted
        > by a compelling
        > change in the park system's circumstances. It was
        > prompted by a
        > change in political circumstances - the opportunity
        > to craft a
        > vision of the national parks that suits the Bush
        > administration.
        >
        > Some of Mr. Hoffman's changes are trivial, although
        > even apparently
        > subtle changes in wording - from "protect" to
        > "conserve," for
        > instance - soften the standard used to judge the
        > environmental
        > effects of park policy.
        >
        > But there is nothing subtle about the main thrust of
        > this rewrite.
        > It is a frontal attack on the idea of "impairment."
        > According to the
        > act that established the national parks, preventing
        > impairment of
        > park resources - including the landscape, wildlife
        > and such
        > intangibles as the soundscape of Yellowstone, for
        > instance - is
        > the "fundamental purpose." In Mr. Hoffman's world,
        > it is now merely
        > one of the purposes.
        >
        > Mr. Hoffman's rewrite would open up nearly every
        > park in the nation
        > to off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and Jet Skis.
        > According to his
        > revision, the use of such vehicles would become one
        > of the parks'
        > purposes. To accommodate such activities, he
        > redefines impairment to
        > mean an irreversible impact. To prove that an
        > activity is impairing
        > the parks, under Mr. Hoffman's rules, you would have
        > to prove that
        > it is doing so irreversibly - a very high standard
        > of proof. This
        > would have a genuinely erosive effect on the
        > standards used to
        > protect the national parks.
        >
        > The pattern prevails throughout this 194-page
        > document - easing the
        > rules that limit how visitors use the parks and
        > toughening the
        > standard of proof needed to block those uses. Behind
        > this pattern,
        > too, there is a fundamental shift in how the parks
        > are regarded. If
        > the laws establishing the national park system were
        > fundamentally
        > forward-looking - if their mission, first and
        > foremost, was
        > protecting the parks for the future - Mr. Hoffman's
        > revisions place
        > a new, unwelcome and unnecessary emphasis on the
        > present, on what he
        > calls "opportunities for visitors to use and enjoy
        > their parks."
        >
        > There is no question that we go to national parks to
        > use and enjoy
        > them. But part of the enjoyment of being in a place
        > like Yosemite or
        > the Grand Canyon is knowing that no matter how much
        > it changes in
        > the natural processes of time, it will continue to
        > exist
        > substantially unchanged.
        >
        > There are other issues too. Mr. Hoffman would
        > explicitly allow the
        > sale of religious merchandise, and he removes from
        > the policy
        > document any reference to evolution or evolutionary
        > processes. He
        > does everything possible to strip away a scientific
        > basis for park
        > management. His rules would essentially require park
        > superintendents
        > to subordinate the management of their parks to
        > local and state
        > agendas. He also envisions a much wider range of
        > commercial activity
        > within the parks.
        >
        > In short, this is not a policy for protecting the
        > parks. It is a
        > policy for destroying them.
        >
        > The Interior Department has already begun to
        > distance itself from
        > this rewrite, which it kept hidden from park service
        > employees. But
        > what Mr. Hoffman has given us is a road map of what
        > could happen to
        > the parks if Mr. Bush's political appointees are
        > allowed to have
        > their way.
        >
        > It is clear by now that Mr. Bush has no real
        > intention of living up
        > to his campaign promise to fully finance the
        > national parks. This
        > document offers a vivid picture of the divide
        > between the National
        > Park Service, whose career employees remain
        > committed to the
        > fundamental purpose of leaving the parks unimpaired,
        > and an Interior
        > Department whose political appointees seem willing
        > to alter them
        > beyond recognition, partly in the service of
        > commercial objectives.
        >
        > Suddenly, many things - like the administration's
        > efforts to force
        > snowmobiles back into Yellowstone - seem very easy
        > to explain.
        >
        > Sigh.
        >
        > There's another article from Friday's Los Angeles
        > Times as well-
        >
        > http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-na-
        >
        parks26aug26,0,1127124,full.story?coll=la-home-headlines
        >
        > We could give Paul a call today and ask him to
        > elaborate on his
        > actions; his work number is 202-208-4416; you could
        > try 202-208-4684
        > as well. An email might be appreciated too- you can
        > reach him at
        > Paul_Hoffman@...
        >
        >
        >
        > jl
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >




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      • John Lovaas
        ... so intelligent rather than emotional discussion can follow.
        Message 3 of 3 , Aug 29, 2005
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          >>>When the actual text of the policy is available please post a link
          so intelligent
          rather than emotional discussion can follow.<<<

          You'll find the draft document at this website-

          http://www.npsretirees.org/

          as well as analysis of the draft changes at

          http://www.npsretirees.org/05_0826-ANALYSISofNPSmgmtpolicies.htm

          Mind numbing legalese, but discouraging nonetheless.

          jl
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