Mudcat Café message #1596929 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #62901   Message #1596929
Posted By: Amos
03-Nov-05 - 09:26 PM
Thread Name: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Subject: RE: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
In 1916, largely due to the effort of Gifford Pinchot, the United States established the National Park Service (NPS) and organized it through the passage of the 1916 NPS Organic Act. It's emphasis was completely clear -- that these lands be managed as to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations, and that human activities in those Parks be limited to such actions as would leave them unimpaired.

For some time, the Bush Administration has been readying a major dilution of the 1916 Organic Act and the occasional clarification which have been hitherto issued on it, all of which maintained its standards and intent for the unimpairment of National Park lands and wildlife.

One testimony delivered to Congress by a veteran Parks executive can be found on this page; it is thoughtful and well-reasoned, not inflammatory but completely clear about why the revisions being prepared to dilute the NPS charter are unneeded.

A far more damning and detailed presentation can be found on this page, in the form of a statement to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources on behalf of a large Coalition of NPS executives:

"The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees is over 430 individuals, all former employees of the National Park Service, with more joining us almost daily. Together we bring to this hearing more than 12,000 years of experience. Many of us were senior leaders and many received awards for stewardship of our country's natural and cultural resources. As rangers, executives, park managers, biologists, historians, interpreters, planners and specialists in other disciplines, we devoted our professional lives to maintaining and protecting the National Parks for the benefit of all Americans-those now living and those yet to be born. In our personal lives we come from a broad spectrum of political affiliations and we count among our members, five former Directors or Deputy Directors of the National Park Service, twenty-three former Regional Directors, or Deputy Regional Directors, twenty-seven former Associate or Assistant Directors and one hundred and eight former Park Superintendents or Assistant Superintendents."

Speaking for this highly experienced body before the Senate Committee, Mister Castleberry points out that "The draft of proposed Management Policies of the National Park Service that was released for comment on October 19, like its earlier version—Deputy Assistant Secretary Paul Hoffman's rewrite that became public information in August—is a drastic and dangerous departure from a longstanding national consensus. It is driven neither by law, by any conservation need, or by any failure of practical application. Little has changed since the present Policies became effective only four years ago."

He goes on to ask, "If improvement cannot be demonstrated as the goal, one must conclude that the motivation stems from the personal agendas of a few nearly anonymous appointees in the Department of Interior who know that they could not achieve the same goals by asking the Congress to change the laws.

This is the first time since Assistant Director Tolson started writing administrative policies back in the 1940's that superintendents and their staffs have not been included in any proposed re-writes of such policy documents. Under the new process the vast majority of superintendents and staff members only input into the proposed revisions would be to comment, as members of the general public, after the policies have been developed.

During this past summer, Deputy Assistant Secretary Paul Hoffman labored quietly to create a draft of Management Policy revisions, carefully limiting knowledge of his work to a small number of others and forbidding them to share it broadly.

Since the need for a revised policy did not originate from NPS career employees, nor from the visiting public, a reasonable question emerges, as to its origin. When asked, the political employee, Mr. Hoffman declined to identify anyone who had urged the changes.

After Hoffman's disastrous proposals were exposed in August, public reaction was so powerful that the Department of the Interior quickly disavowed them, calling the draft "devil's advocacy," and "intended to promote discussion."

Aside from noting that the national parks are more in need of the advocacy of an angel than of a devil, one can only wonder how much real discussion might be generated by a draft passed hand to hand among a gagged and silent few."

I excerpt a few specific examples of this corrosive undermining of the National Parks institution by an ill-mannered Bush appointee, and invite you to read the orginal testimony in total. It is a stunning example of creeping Fascism at work against the national interest.

"Present Park Service policies deleted by Hoffman: "Congress, recognizing that the enjoyment by future generations of the national parks can be ensured only if the superb quality of park resources and values is left unimpaired, has provided that when there is a conflict between conserving resources and values and providing for enjoyment of them, conservation is to be predominant."

(This mandate) –"is independent of the separate prohibition on impairment, and so applies all the time, with respect to all park resources and values, even when there is no risk that any parks resources and values may be impaired."

From the 1916 Organic Act of Congress creating the National Park Service: "The – National Park Service – shall promote and regulate the use – of national parks – as provided by law, by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purpose to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment for the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

A 1978 act of congress further emphasized preservation in the Redwoods Amendment "Congress further reaffirms, declares and directs the promotion and regulation of various areas of the National Park System –shall be consistent with and founded in the purpose established by the first section of the Act of August 25, 1916, to the common benefit of all the people of the United States. The authorization of activities shall be construed and the protection, management, and administration of these area shall be conducted in light of the high public value and integrity of the National Park System and shall not be exercised in derogation of the values and purposes for which these various areas have been established, except as may have been or shall be directly and specifically provided by congress."

The effect of the Hoffman deletion of these two paragraphs deletes the clear mandate of congress in the management of national parks that the primary purpose of managing parks is preservation of the resources.

A specific application of the Hoffman changes that weaken the Park Service mandate to preserve resources includes this change to planning for cultural resources.

Present Park Service management policies direct park planners to "always seek to avoid harm to cultural resources." The Hoffman rewrite directs park planners to "always seek to avoid 'unacceptable' harm to cultural resources."

The effect of this Hoffman rewrite is to direct that there is acceptable harm to cultural resources, in direct conflict with current policies that direct planners to always seek to avoid harm.

A Hoffman deletion allows visitor activities to degrade the experience of other visitors to the park.

Present Park Service management policy deleted by Hoffman: "the Service will not allow visitors to conduct activities that unreasonably interfere with –the atmosphere of peace and tranquility, or the natural soundscape maintained in wilderness and natural, historic or commemorative locations within the park."

The effect of the Hoffman deletion allows uses by some visitors to unreasonably interfere with the experience of the park by other visitors.

The Hoffman rewrite weakens the protection of natural soundscapes in a park:

Present Park Service management policy deleted by Hoffman: "The National Park Service will preserve to the greatest extent possible, the natural soundscapes of parks."

The Hoffman rewrite adds: "The National Park Service will restore degraded soundscapes wherever practicable and will protect natural soundscapes from degradation due to unacceptable noise.""...

For the entire statement see