House Subcommittee Reviews Administration Proposal to Revise National Park Policies

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   December 14, 2005
Contact:   Craig Obey, NPCA, cell: 202-669-9689


House Subcommittee Reviews Administration Proposal to Revise National Park Policies

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today testified before the U.S. House of Representatives that there is no pressing need for the Department of the Interior to rewrite the policies that govern America’s national parks, and raised concern that the agency’s draft proposal would reduce the importance of resource protection in the parks and significantly increase opportunities for off-road vehicles and other damaging uses in the parks.

“Special interests must give way to the national interest if the national parks are to flourish in the future,” said Deny Galvin, former deputy director of the National Park Service and member of NPCA’s board of trustees, in his written testimony.

Chairman Steve Pearce (R-NM) called today’s hearing in the Parks Subcommittee of the House Resources Committee to examine the Organic Act, which is the law that created the National Park Service nearly 100 years ago, and guides its preservation mission. NPCA is concerned that the Department of the Interior’s proposed revision of the existing (2001) Management Policies includes a “misguided” interpretation of the Organic Act.

“The proposed draft significantly revises the interpretation of the Organic Act by treating its mandate as a balancing act between conservation of resources… and visitor enjoyment,” Galvin said.

NPCA charges that the overall impact of the language changes in the draft weakens protections for national parks, in particular, park air quality and wilderness, and could potentially lead to increased use of Jet Skis, snowmobiles, off-road vehicles, and commercialization at the cost of preservation.

“The administration has shown no need for the broad and comprehensive changes that they propose to make in the NPS Management Policies,” Galvin said.

Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO), and other senators raised concerns about the management policies at a Senate hearing last month on the Department of the Interior’s proposed rewrite of the Management Policies. “There’s no reason to do this when you’re going to diminish what’s in the parks,” The Associated Press quoted Sen. Alexander as saying in November.

Also testifying today were the National Park Service; William Horn, former assistant secretary of the Interior for fish, wildlife and parks and frequent spokesperson for the snowmobile industry; Chuck Cushman, executive director, American Land Rights Association, Battle Ground, Wash.; Jerry Fruth, member, Recreation and Land Use Committee, American Horse Council, Wadesville, Ind.; and Bill Wade, former superintendent of Shenandoah National Park and chairman, Executive Council, Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, Tucson, Ariz.

NPCA is encouraging the public to comment on the Department of the Interior’s proposed rewrite of the parks’ Management Policies before the February 18, 2006, deadline.

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