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Lyle Laverty Confirmed as Assistant Interior Secretary Over National Parks

Lyle Laverty; Denver Post photo.

Lyle Laverty; Denver Post photo.

Lyle Laverty was somewhat quietly confirmed Tuesday by the U.S. Senate as an assistant Interior secretary with responsibilities that including policy oversight for the National Park Service. But how quiet will his term be?

Mr. Laverty comes to Interior from the state of Colorado, where he was director of state parks. His tenure there was not without controversy, as this Denver Post article explains.

In Colorado Mr. Laverty helped boost park attendance, but some question his approaches. For instance, he had luxury cabins built in some parks, traveled far abroad, and even bought a horse with $5,000 in public funds, according to the newspaper.

Mr. Laverty also is said to be fond of having user fees in parks and relying on the private sector to take on work previously handled by the federal government. With that background, any guesses on how he'll advise National Park Service Director Mary Bomar on the question of snowmobiles in Yellowstone?

For more analysis of Mr. Laverty's appointment, check out this post by Scott Silver at his Wild Wilderness blog.


As long as the parks are administered by the Executive Branch of the federal government you should expect to see these types of political appointees slip in and out of power with the greatest of ease. That they bring their own agendas and legacies, that often have little to do with solving the current issues facing the parks, is the way that the system operates. In a few years Mr. Laverty will be gone and a new occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will do the same thing all over again.

A patronage based spoils system is no way to operate natural areas. What advantages are realized by this political revolving door when it comes to resource management?

Or as Frank Zappa once asked "What is your conceptual continuity?"

In the politically charged atmosphere of the Dept. of Interior it is practically zilch.

Sounds like a good man to me...great innovative mind to a system that sorely needs it.

Uncle Frank has a multitude of poignant sound bites to many of the issues on this board. Most often I wind up thinking along the lines of, "Look here brother, who you jivin' with that cosmic debris?".

But your's is better for this article Beamis.

Good man or not, and personally I'm not crazy about a number of things in his past, both ideas and actions, the path to the office is truly a basis for discussion. Politics are the reason the NPS is where it is today, and I'm not insinuating that's a good thing by any stretch. On the other hand, a publically elected official is just as worthless in this instance. So, do we try merit based? Based on what criterion and determined by who? By that method if you're not an NPS insider, what are your chances? Other-than-political type appointment? Then we're at the mercy of special interest groups, and ain't no way I backin' that horse. A rotation based series of managers? Stagnation by committee? Who determines the committee members?

One way, and my personal favorite since it tends to eliminate so many of the pitfalls of higher office, is to comprise a short list based on volunteers. With no pay, no connections, and hopefully limited or no influential ties, the old paper resume and letter of intent, specific to general interest in the system and long-term game plan for the entire park network is a nice place to start. Then place the lucky winner (or loser, whatever) slightly above and beyond the scope of those whom he/she is to govern, so as not to be beholden to them either. And have defined term limits. And performance evlautations. And a regular office to park their asses in on a 40+ hour a week schedule. And take away the corporate (or Congressional) jets and helicopters and buy them a bus or an RV that runs on biodiesel. Or better yet hydrogen. Then see who REALLY want the job.

Looks likes to me another dog catcher confirmed to invoke more of the same (do nothing policies) and just ride the clock out with the nice perks! Sounds good Lone Hiker, a pure volunteer system with no strings attached, but that doesn't fit well for the average Joe Blow (like me) were we have to slave to make a living real quality time off to do the real things that can make a big difference, except this piece meal stuff: like pulling up obnoxious weeds along park trails, cleaning up after the Lord's debri that trash out the parks on the long weekends ...etc.. Yeah, volunteerism works well for the rich guy who can spare the time and energy to be a free Dog Catcher for the parks, and a advocate to say the rich can only apply. I see this everyday where I live. Rich yuppies making tons of money for very, very selfish reasons and with this screw you "I got mine" attitude, and suddenly one bright day (he or she) wakes up and says, I really want to be a nice person for a change, and do good for the world today. But, you can look at his life style that stinks to ----. I mean this pathetic attitude of greed at best! Believe me, the garbage dump smells far better. I'm sure there's plenty of nice rich people (and I know a few very well) around who have given their hearts and wallets to bless the the parks with huge graceful endowments. Bless their souls! My point is, can it be possible to have a tri-mangement system to run this job. A cohensive team that encompasses of one candidate being a private citizen, one from government, and one from a non partisan environmental organization (if such)...and set up a sort of checks and balance system. The criteria for the job is to remember the "boyscout motto"...just kidding...a lost virtue! No! just a extensive criminal background check, and a deep keen interest to eradicate the internal cancer that's ruining the morale and structural apparatus of the National Park system. Beamis, Frank and Lone Hiker is there any hope that we can get rid of this political garbage that's rotting the core of this once great agency.

During my formative years of working for the NPS, I got the impression that the agency was a bastion of purity, not to be tampered with any way. You were expected to eat, drink, breathe, and bleed the Green & Gray, even during your private life. I once worked with a law enforcement ranger who took this concept to such extremes he had a little NPS uniform made for his four year old kid to wear while playing in the sandbox. Pity the cat that dug up that disturbing apparition!

I was told that if you criticized the NPS, you were a big trouble-maker...and you could be in big trouble. If you sat in a bar on a day off, and a co-worker overheard you say anything negative about the agency, you could be reported. What collapsed totalitarian regimes does that culture of fear resemble?

Fortunately, times have changed. Nowadays aligning yourself too closely with the agency will probably do you more harm than good. It's now common knowledge that the outfit is far from perfect; you'd be a fool if you didn't at least poke fun of the NPS once in a while. No point in being labelled guilty by association.

But times haven't changed THAT much. Most NPS employees are still scared to death to openly criticize the agency, even though they're more disillusioned than ever. By the way, do you really think my name is "Bart"?

Most NPS manager types live in a world of illusion. The good ol' boy (and girl) denial machine is alive and well, rather akin to Nero fiddling away, buzzed out of his gourd, while Rome went up in blazes.

National Park managers need to take a very painful your doors to the kind of internal criticism that will lead to legitimate change in how business is conducted.

Simple Proposal #10: Invite Constructive Criticism...especially the kind that really hurts.

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