What Will 2008 Bring the National Park System?

What will 2008 bring national parks such as Glacier National Park? Kurt Repanshek photo.

2007 is just about history. 2008, though, is still unvarnished, full of hope and promise. With that in mind, what will the new year bring to the national park system? Here's some wishful thinking....

In the coming 12 months I'd like to see:

* National Park Service Director Mary Bomar reverse her stance on recreational snowmobiles in Yellowstone and join her eight predecessors in saying they don't belong in the parks.

* Quick, peaceful settlements to off-road vehicle and Jet ski issues in the national park system.

* Congressmen Mark Souder, R-Indiana, and Brian Baird, D-Washington, finally release the findings of their lengthy investigation into the condition of the national park system. It's a shame that all the time and expense that went into their subcommittee meetings is going for naught just because they're no longer on those committees.

* An amicable solution to the legal wrangling over the Yosemite's Merced River Plan.

* A return of the $50 National Parks Pass.

I'm not the only one hoping for a brighter future of the national parks in 2008. Here are some thoughts from the National Parks Conservation Association:

* Congress and the administration need to continue to invest in our national parks next year, and in the years leading up to the parks’ centennial. The National Park Service needs funds to provide adequate services for nearly 300 million annual visitors, protect archaeological sites and historic buildings, address the parks’ extensive list of backlogged maintenance and preservation projects, including visitor centers and restrooms that are in bad shape, and to acquire land inside park boundaries, some of which is now threatened with development.

* Congress launched the National Park Centennial Challenge by providing nearly $25 million in the fiscal year 2008 omnibus bill. Now Congress just needs to pass legislation to authorize this new, 10-year-long program, which would augment annual appropriations and match private investments with federal funds to complete important park projects and programs.

*Congress and the Administration must enforce the Clean Air Act and put the brakes on dirty, coal-fired power plants and other polluters that are now making national park air unhealthy for people and wildlife and exacerbating the harmful affects of global warming.

* "I'd like to see the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates make protection of our national parks a campaign priority," says Sean Smith, NPCA's Pacific Northwest regional director. "I'd also hope for several new parks to be added to the northwest, including the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail and Bainbridge Island National Internment Memorial. Finally, we'd hope Congress will elevate Mount St. Helens to a national park, as well as expand the boundaries of Oregon Caves National Monument and Olympic National Park."

Comments

I'll go one step further than you, Kurt, about Mary Bomar. Since her eight predecessors have not increased snowmobile trails, I'd like to see Bomar resign her position. She obviously isn't thinking about the long-term protection of our park system. And, I have a question: How can land within park boundaries be threatened with new development? Isn't all the land within boundaries part of the park system? I'd also like to see more National Parks established. If we don't protect more land now, people will push to develop that land and all that will be left are concrete jungles.

Kurt, nice looking photograph! What kind of camera do you use and what time of year was this picture taken? Great shot!

Linda, regarding development inside parks, there are quite a number of privately owned parcels within borders of national parks. For instance, recently there was a case in Zion National Park when a parcel was put up for sale. The Park Service wanted it, but didn't have the funds to buy it. So it went to a California couple that, I think, is trying to develop a small resort.

Anonymous, the photo was taken with a Nikon N70 on Logan Pass in July of 2005.

Kurt

So, people that own land within park boundaries can do whatever they wish with that land, even build a resort? That doesn't seem right. Do you think that will actually come to fruition? And, yes, that photo is incredibly beautiful.