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Traveler's View: There's No Lack Of GOP Chutzpa In The House When It Comes To National Parks


In their latest effort to stir the National Park Service pot, 94 Republicans in the House of Representatives are striving to redefine "chutzpa."

Despite the estimated loss of at least $76 million a day in tourism-related business across the country, the furlough of more than 20,000 Park Service employees and hundreds more non-profit employees, and the ruination of countless vacations, the 93 members led by Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Michigan, are fretting over how many rangers it takes to keep the World War II Memorial on the National Mall open. Or should that be closed?


Not surprisingly, considered his unabashed rant against a park ranger in front of the memorial last week, Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, is among the signatories.

So, too, is Rep. Michelle Bachmann, the Minnesota Republican who, before she was frighteningly concerned with pinching federal pennies, pushed an earmark through Congress to spend an estimated 200,000,000 federal dollars on a bridge across the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. It was a project that four times the Park Service refused to permit because of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, as the St. Croix carries a wild and scenic designation, and which some thought was unneeded and unaffordable.

These 94 are in a tizzy over the barricades the Park Service erected around the World War II Memorial and other memorials on the Mall. They want Park Service Director Jon Jarvis to take a head count of rangers staffing the World War II Memorial and report back to them on whether the seven sighted there the other day was six too many (see attachment). Or maybe even seven too many.

They also want to know why the Park Service changed the wording on signs "placed at each of the closed memorials" from ones bearing the NPS logo to ones without the logo. Oh, and Mr. Director, please tell us how much it cost to make the switch.


We have small businesses that count on strong October tourism dollars to get them through the winter months that are losing tens of thousands of dollars, concessionaires that are losing almost $1 million a day for every day the parks are closed (let's see, today's October 10, so that's a tidy $10 million), and Rep. Huizenga and his co-signers are worried about printing costs for a few dozen signs.

We have had visitors from Japan, Australia, and China (and no doubt other countries) making once-in-a-lifetime visits to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, only to be locked out, river runners seeking a life-time experience on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon stuck on the beach at Lees Ferry, and these 94 Republicans are worried about barricades on the Mall posing an "unnecessary burden" to "the American people."

Make no mistake, the Park Service has stumbled a time or three in the way it has handled the shutdown process and enforced it. Tone deaf comes to mind in some instances, poor PR in others.

Indeed, in the case at hand, Rep. Huzinega cites a section of the Park Service's shutdown plan that states that Park Service facilities "located in urban areas where full NPS law enforcement coverage is continued due to the inability to control visitor access" would remain open.

And why would the Park Service send law enforcement rangers to shut down the Pisgah Inn along the Blue Ridge Parkway while reportedly allowing the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. -- a business the Park Service is trying to remove from Point Reyes National Seashore, by the way -- to continue business as usual?

Now, this isn't to say Democrats in Congress don't float some lead balloons, for they frequently do. But this GOP faction is rewriting the definition of frivolous and misguided representation.

Why are these 94 worried so about how much it costs "to operate an open-air site such as the World War II Memorial on a typical day," at a time when gateway communities are drowning in room cancellations and empty restaurants, when Park Service staff that wants to get back to work sits idly by and has to watch as visitors ignore barricades and enter the parks anyway, when there really, really must be something just a little bit more important to focus on?

Like, perhaps, ending the impasse that is causing this incredible dysfunction?

In the spirit of Rep. Huizenga's letter to Director Jarvis, we'd like to know:

* How much staff time it took to research and write his letter, and how much in salary that cost?

* How much time it took to seek out the 93 cosigners, discuss the matter with them, and get them to sign the letter, and how many representatives told them they were wasting their time and to take a hike (not in a national park, though)?

* Whether's he's calculated how much time, at taxpayer expense, it will take Director Jarvis to take a head count of his Mall rangers and track down the appropriate number assigned to the World War II Memorial?

* Has he given any thought to the pain and economic distress the rest of the country is going through while he's calling for a headcount of rangers on the Mall?

And as Rep. Huizenga wrote to Director Jarvis, we'd like his "prompt attention to this urgent matter."

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It pains me to see the NPS used this way. I'm not sure how we can correct it. Maybe we need a new law. Maybe we just need a differant interpretation of the current law. There will be another shut down. The NPS shouldn't be used as a political tool.

When there is a shut down the NPS should be keeping as many things open as possible. If it costs more to close something like it has been suggested for the National Mall, then we should keep it open. I've been to the Mall dozens of times. I'm planning on going there Saturday to take a look for myself. I know that some of the times I was there I've walked completely around the mall without seeing even one ranger, The Capitol Police seem to have a bigger presence on the mall. Thanks to Mayor Gray, the police are still in full force.

I don't care who you blame for the shut down. I just want our NPS to behave differantly next shut down. How can we ensure that this happens?

Seems like this two party system we have been used to for so many years no longer works. Time for a change--- elect people who only are concerned about our country and not party politics--- the Dems and Repubs are all to blame

The GOP offered and passed to fund the NPS, but the Senate declines to even attempt to negoiate. What your seeing, and hopefully continues, is the DOI/NPS being put under the microscope. They are fishing for the person that decieded to close open air memorials.

The NPS came back the next day to WWII Veterans memorial and wired the fencing together to make even more difficult for the veterans to access the memorial. The person(s) involved these continuing unforgivable actions needs to be exposed. I have a sneaking suspcision it came from the highest level in the DOI.

Your attempts at blaming the GOP for this mess is laughable.

"Travelers View" forgot to mention what really precipitated this letter: The NPS (Obama) allowed a demonstration by illiegal aliens to take place on the National Mall, but it won't allow its own tax paying citizens to visit the WWII Memorial, the Liincoln Memorial, etc...

The House Republicans vote overwhelmingly to open the parks and the VA with nothing else on the table and the House Democrats vote overwhelmingly to keep them closed And you blame the Republicans for the current park woes? Now that is Chutzpa.

This government shutdown is entirely the fault of John Boener, who refuses to let the House of Representatives vote on the budget. There are enough votes in the House to pass the Senate's budget bill, but he refuses to bring it up for a vote.

Boener has caved in to the fanatical tea party extremists who don't believe in democracy. Our government is supposed to be run by our elected representatives. Let democracy work.

fanatical tea party extremists who don't believe in democracy

Hiker - we are not a democracy we are a republic. Our government was formed the way it was intentionlly so the majority couldn't force its will on the minority. There is nothing "fanatical" about wanting limited government (per the Constitution) and fiscal responsibility.

Is this really who you want in charge of your healthcare?

Smoky - It appears that there is a Constitutional issue involved in the rally. First Amendment. There very well may be some other parts of the story that are not being told.

ec, most of us -- and the Democrats -- are smart enough to see through the political smokescreen the Repubs are generating by trying to "reopen" the government in small chunks. That is nothing but a sleazy tactic to try to drag this all out as long as possible and try to somehow embarrass Obama and the opposite party.

While out on Antelope Island in the middle of the Large Salty Puddle, I met a German family and asked about their vacation plans. Completely messed up. But they chose to take a positive attitude and said, "But if the national parks had been open, we would not have discovered places like this." I asked what might happen in Germany if their government tried to play games as ours is doing. "It could not happen," was the reply. "We would very soon have a new government." They gave me a civics lesson, Deutsch variety, and explained that when their government loses the trust of its citizens, an election is called and a new administration and parliament may installed.

Too bad we can't do that here. I just sincerely hope that American voters will have a long enought atttention span to dump ALL incumbents from both parties in our next elections.

{A bit of much needed humor here: I first met my campground neighbors when one of them came to me and asked, "Have you any aiks?" I replied that I did, and asked how many they needed. He got a funny look on his face and said, "No, any AIKS. Aiks, for splitting firewood." We spent a little time on an English pronunciation lesson and became pretty good friends for the rest of their stay.}

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