Monday, August 29, 2005

Clearcutting National Park management policy

The battle between the Interior political management and career National Park Service officials is raging.  See LA Times article. Controversy Over Plans for Changes in U.S. Parks

A draft NPS management policy circulating within Interior radically affects NPS policies in favor of snowmobiles, cell towers, grazing, and other public uses. Links to draft NPS management policy 

The NY Times editorial today discusses just a few policy adjustments.  NY Times editorial   My review of the draft NPS management policy indicates that it would:

  • change the mission of National Parks from preservation to conservation,
  • expand the purposes of the park
  • stress public use of parks over protection of park resources,
  • change the impairment standard to only prohibit "irreversibly" harm to the integrity of park resources,
  • remove the policy that requires NPS to err on the side of resource protection when in cases of doubt as to resource impacts
  • only require restoration of natural functions and process "whenever feasible, reasonable, and practicable" and inserts similar language throughout the policy
  • preclude designation of parks as World Heritage sites or Biosphere Reserves if such a designation would impair public enjoyment of the park
  • control park access to protect endangered species only as "a last resort"
  • minimize the assertion of water rights for the park and allow long term leasing of water rights unless the leasing would impair park resources
  • provide less stringent requirements to protect natural light, sound, and smells
  • will no longer minimize the use of motorized equipment and modes of transportation to protect natural ambient sound conditions
  • allow off road vehicle use on roads and other routes unless it is necessary for public safety or to prevent impairment
  • more readily allow expansion of Park roads and non-NPS roads in parks

Retired career NPS personnel have produced a revealing and strongly analysis of the policy. NPS career employee analysis.  Arnold and Porter has opined that it is illegal. A & P opinion.    And Interior is backpedalling from the firestorm over the draft as quickly as possible.

Stay tuned -- now I wonder: do clearcuts "permanently and irreversibly" affect national park resources ????

Governance/Management, Land Use, Law, US | Permalink

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