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Denver Post Has Suggestion for Kempthorne


    The Denver Post has a suggestion Interior secretary nominee Dick Kempthorne should put at the top of his to-do list: Scrap efforts to rewrite the National Park Service's Management Policies.
    Taking the lead of U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, a Colorado Democrat, the newspaper says the rewrite was a mistake from the beginning and it's not going to improve the management of our national park system.
    "Since he'll have a clean slate, Kempthorne shouldn't feel wedded to plans pushed by outgoing Interior chief Gale Norton and her deputy Paul Hoffman," the newspaper writes on its website. "Park Service officials rightly say they face challenges unforeseen when current policies were adopted four years ago, so they must now update security at 22 border parks and icons like the Statue of Liberty. But the plan goes far beyond security and would overhaul most aspects of parks management, potentially leading to degradation of the parks' peace and quiet, clean air, wildlife and historic values.
     "The concern isn't just what the plan says, although that's worrisome enough. For example, it says parks may allow motorized recreation and other activities unless the changes cause 'unacceptable adverse impacts to resources.' How could adverse impacts be acceptable? The law explicitly says parks are to be left 'unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.' Most troubling are the omissions. For instance, the proposal would erase a provision that park managers follow the law and 'protect and preserve unimpaired the resources and values of the national park system while providing for public use and enjoyment.'
    "By eliminating requirements to preserve "soundscapes" (the natural quiet that cocoons places like Mesa Verde) the policy could permit extensive snowmobile and off-road vehicle use. Once established, such noisy activities will be hard to stop. Last fall, after Hoffman circulated a much-criticized first draft, the Park Service eventually put out a revised version for public comment. While the comment period ended Feb. 25, the agency plans further revisions - yet disturbingly won't take additional public input.
    "The plan's third version may be finished in April and implemented by July. Kempthorne should heed the advice that Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., gave Norton.
    "'Policy changes should address significant, legitimate and defined problems confronting the parks. To rewrite the management policies when there are no such problems is both irresponsible and a waste of the public's time and resources," Salazar's Feb. 17 letter said. "We should not waiver in our promise to protect our national treasures for future generations."'


And of course, the ironic thing is that the so-called Revised Management Policies still do far too little to recognize the sheer diversity of sites within the National Park System. So, I disagree with Salazar that there is no need for revised Management Policies - I think that the NPS does need to develop a better vision for itself - but the proposed revision submitted to the Federal Register doesn't seem to even notice that those needs exist.... yet another reason they should be withdrawn.

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