Tuesday, June 20, 2006

New NPS Plan Emphasizes Preservation

Newly-minted Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has rejected a proposed policy shift for national park management which would have allowed snowmobiling and increased commercialization, according to a report in today's LATimes. Instead, policies will continue to encourage preservation as the preeminent function of the park system. Kempthorne said yesterday that preservation "is the heart of these policies and the lifeblood of our nation's commitment to care for these special places and provide for their enjoyment."

According to the Times report, the new plan, which will become final in a couple weeks, "explicitly instructs park managers to maintain clean air, water and natural sounds, and not allow any activities that might damage park resources," and also "contains sections that acknowledge the impact of global climate change in the parks and encourage cultural diversity."

The earlier draft plan would have opened up some parks for increased snowmobile activity, grazing and mining, and would have "weakened air quality standards" for the parks. It was written by former Deputy Assistant Secretary Paul Hoffman.

This new plan, unless it contains gaping loopholes of which I'm not aware, sounds pretty darn good. The media reports indicate that it was drafted by NPS officials rather than by Interior department bureaucrats, which makes a great deal of sense. Of course it's too early to say whether this is "the rest of the story," or if there's more to come - but this seems to me like a good, positive step.

[Update: This story was featured on NPR's "Morning Edition" this morning; you can listen to the report here.]


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