Op-Ed: Let's Compromise To Support The National Parks

Rob Smith, NPCA's Pacific Northwest Region director.

There is a place to start coming together on the federal budget, and Sen. Patty Murray is well-suited to lead the way as chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee and a leader in the current, difficult budget negotiations. Shutting down the government — and our national parks — is simply not a reasonable choice.

In addition to disrupting long-planned vacations, relocating weddings, and spoiling other events, communities surrounding Olympic National Park lost nearly $4 million in visitor spending during the shutdown. Businesses surrounding Mount Rainier lost up to $1 million. But the shutdown was part of a long-term trend of broken budgeting harming national parks and threatening the visitor experience and the economic health of surrounding communities.

Our national parks offer an instructive lesson about why budget brinksmanship and the indiscriminate across-the-board sequester cuts demand a new approach. Sen. Murray is choosing the right fight in seeking a compromise that will end this damaging policy.

While the entrances to our national parks have been reopened, there are still “closed” signs on some campgrounds, visitor centers and historic structures and nearly 2,000 fewer rangers to help visitors due to sequestration. The ever-shrinking budget — down 13 percent since 2010 just to operate our national parks — is shortsighted and unsustainable.

Studies show that our national parks generate a $10 return for every $1 invested. National parks in Washington state alone support more than 3,800 jobs and produce upwards of $260 million in economic activity, according to 2011 reports.

It’s time to reinvest in our heritage. Nine in 10 voters — Republican, Democrat and Independent — do not want national park funding cut. Sen. Murray has reflected this bipartisan support with a budget that allows room for investing in national parks, which enjoy broad support, are economically important and are being harmed by the sequester.

Time will tell if the budget conferees also take this common ground into consideration and find the compromise necessary to end the damaging sequester.

Rob Smith is the Northwest regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association. This essay first appeared in The Olympian.

Comments

Let's wish Sen. Murray luck and success.

It's been downright funny here in Utah to watch as our Senator Mike Lee, who was Ted Cruz's faithful tail wagging puppy throughout that ludicrous mess, tries desperately to recover from the hit he took in public opinion even in this red, red state. His "town hall meetings" are all very carefully controlled to prevent anyone attending from asking any questions or making any comments that might be embarrassing for the senator. As a result, he or his handlers apparently had managed to convince themselves that -- as he once claimed -- 100% percent of his constituents were in full support of his misguided efforts.

A little reality must have seeped through the fortress walls and now he's trying desperately to reach out to those voters who are not extremists while still keeping them happy, too. He's claiming the shutdown was successful in driving home the point they were trying to make, but now it's time for some good ol' bipartisan work. He may even have used that forbidden C word a couple of times when he thought his listeners were not wearing tricorner hats with tea bags hanging from them.

It's refreshing to know that there are actually some sensible heads in the Senate. We need to give thanks to Senator Murray and be ready to support her efforts.

I'm no Mike Lee supporter at all but I think your minimizing Senator Lee's efforts might be a bit premature. If you remember, the rationale for Mike Lee's antics was to prevent implementation of the ACA by first defunding and ultimately to delay the individual mandate all because he believed it was such a disaster. Both strategies included full funding for everything else (including the NPS). Now guess what, the ACA is being protrayed as a disaster and many in Utah (and the US) believe that. If the bad press on ACA doesn't stop pretty soon, Mike Lee might have the last laugh come a year from now (when new Rs get elected to both the house and senate because of the ACA disaster). While I applaud, Senator Murray's efforts, she likely has zero chance of prevailing in this congress (as she probably knows) with the republicans saying to all democrats you had your chance to get the NPS fully funded. Her efforts are pretty much theatre for other democratic senators in 2014.

Most of this portrayal - a good choice of words - of the ACA as a 'disaster' comes from those who have spent the past few years fighting it tooth and nail, including those right wing activists who have been documented as attempting to hack the website. It is too easy to sit back and wait for someone to stub their toe and then to point out how they are incompetent at walking, and then to spoon feed the characterization in sound bites to tame and lazy media.The comparison of this as "Obama's Katrina" is sick and wrong - a website that has some gliches in it's roll out is entirely different from the lack of compassion and organizational disarray that contributed to many deaths.

The latest Tea Party/Rebulican attempt to "solve" our National Park funding problem:

States should manage...

And if that won't provide enough money:

Drilling, Fracking, and Pipelines

Rick, portrayal of the ACA as a disaster is spot on. There are way more problems than judst website glitches. The whole thing is based on a series of lies and the website has major aritchtecual design flaws. Critical components of the website haven't been completed yet and they all knew it but for solely political reasons they are attempting to ram down our throats. Something the Democrats will regret for decades. I guess they should have read it before they passed it.

dahkota - Both sound reasonable to me, whats your objection?

Beachbumb, I guess that Rick B has missed the fact that millions of people have been thrown off their current insurance and another 50-100 million are expected to in the future. On top of that doctors are quitting or being dropped and the cost of healthcare and insurance is going up and people are losing their work hours if not their jobs. The website is the least of the the problems of ACA although it is indicative of effectiveness of the central government. 16 state exchanges up and running without meaningful problems. The federal exchange a disaster.

Dahkota, tell me again why the states shouldn't be running the parks and managing fracking rules.

Not taking a side either way on the ACA rollout, but it would be interesting to hear some of the criticism that arose with the arrival of Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.

More recently, circa 2006 under President George W. Bush, the Medicare Part D program for prescriptions was rolled out. Some of the reaction/comments?

"...in early 2006, there were days when I thought we could crash at any moment. For several weeks, the rollout of Medicare Part D felt like a runaway train — bumpy, uncomfortable, unnerving..." -- Michael O. Leavitt, who oversaw that program's introduction as secretary of Health and Human Services.

In the end?

"The program is considered a tremendous success: Premiums have remained low, the program operates well under its projected budget and 90 percent of seniors are satisfied with their plan," he also noted in a recent op-ed piece for the Washington Post.

There also was opposition to Medicare when it was launched in the 1960s:

http://scdemclub.com/medicare.html

Yet it's considered a tremendous program by many these days.

No doubt there are other examples. The lesson seems to be don't be too quick to point to "disasters."

EC, re "millions of people have been thrown off their current insurance," from what I've heard many of those instances (all?), were the result of their policies not meeting the standards set down under ACA....and supposedly the program outlined would provide better benefits at reduced cost. Of course, that remains to be seen in the long(er) run.

As for states running the national parks, as has been noted many times over the months, many states are struggling to manage their own state parks. And really, do you want the potential of 50 different standards for managing the national parks?


many of those instances (all?), were the result of their policies not meeting the standards set down under ACA....and supposedly the program outlined would provide better benefits at reduced cost


Yes - they were thrown off because their policies didn't meet the standards - an event that Obama promised wouldn't happened even though he knew it would.

"Better benefits"??? Who is Obama to define what I need to be insured for? Do I and my post menopausal wife really need to be insured for pregnacy coverage and free contraceptives? My preference is to self insure for all but catastrophic events. I am willing to take that risk at no cost to society but Obamacare doesn't let me do that. No the benefits aren't better and the evidence is clear the cost isn't reduced. How could you possibly increase benefits and reduce costs when you do nothing to address the actual cost of healthcare.

Well, the theory, I believe, is you increase benefits and decrease the cost by bringing 45 million uninsureds into the system.

As for self-insuring for all but catastrophic events, who will define those events or costs? What is catastrophic for someone at a poverty level income might not be for someone making $70,000, and what is catastrophic for someone making $70,000 might not be for someone making $500,000.

And what if you or your spouse had a pre-existing condition? Lose your job, lose your coverage under the old system.

As for whether the cost is reduced or not, here's a snippet from factcheck.org on that matter:


Plans sold to individuals can no longer charge more based on health status or gender, but they can vary premiums based on geography, age and tobacco use. A RAND study, published in August and sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, estimated there would be “no widespread trend toward sharply higher prices in the individual market,” in the words of the lead author. Rates would likely vary from state to state and based on individual circumstances. So Paul is wrong to make the sweeping claim that “everybody is going to pay more.”


Here's the rest of the factcheck piece:

http://www.factcheck.org/2013/09/factchecking-pernicious-obamacare-claims/

Again, I'd suggest it's too early to call the ACA a disaster or a success. Beyond that question, I do believe there are savings to be had in the form of means testing.

Rick B., As for hacking the Obamacare website isn't that in the great American tradition of nonviolent direct action? It is the modern equivalent of a sit in or a strike isn't it?

And as for the whole Obamacare discussion. If I were a company that wanted to avoid the employer mandate I would study the tactics of an organization that is expert at figuring out a ways to evade laws requiring that employers provide benefits --the National Park Service.

Somehow I don't the the government will be as forgiving with private companies as they are with themselves when they do it.


Well, the theory, I believe, is you increase benefits and decrease the cost by bringing 45 million uninsureds into the system.

You bring 45 million insureds in, increase the minimum level of coverage and reduce the number of providers and you expect cost to go down? Are you familiar with the law of supply and demand?


who will define those events or costs


The person that is being insured of course. If I decide I don't need contraceptives or pregnacy care, or any other coverage, I decide not to have that coverage.


And what if you or your spouse had a pre-existing condition? Lose your job, lose your coverage under the old system.


Preexisting conditions is a legitmate issue. But it represents a small percentage of the overall insurance market. Why throw out the system serving 90% of the population to fix a problem effecting less than 10%. My solution for pre-exisiting is: if you never had insurance - tough, you brought it on yourself. If you had insurance and lost it through no fault of your own and then can't get insurance, your prior company should be required to continue coverage under the previous terms. Easy fix without the government taking over 20% of the economy.

As to cost - HHS studies are pure fiction. The reality is the cost of insurance is higher.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/21/affordability-obamacare-plans-varies-state-county/3641821/

A little off subject of parks, but it was the Congress of the United States that passed the ACA, the President supported the legislation and signed the bill. In those sates that have embraced the ACA, the coverage and potential savings our significant. Like any program, it will take awhile for the kinks to be worked out. As far as the for profit health insurance industry is concerned, they are not in favor of the ACA for a very basic reason, it will cut into profits, and their dumping of policies on citizens is a real real stab in the back. Come January first, that will stop hopefully. I do not know the age of all those who are in a position to say they do not need comprehensive health insurance or their income group, but I can tell you that when you get into my age group you will be very glad that the President Obama administration took on the "for profit health care industry". And for those that think they do not need it, I hope you are right, but at some point accidents, disease, age, etc catch up to all of us. EC, I am surprised you are opposed to the ACA, it was a republican idea first implemented in Mass. by the former governor of that state, Mr. Mitt Romney. The compromise was that health care would be reformed, but instead of a single payer system (like medicare), the private sector would be allowed to participate. Perhaps that is the big mistake here.


the coverage and potential savings our significant.


Please show where that is the case (ex the subsidies).


are not in favor of the ACA for a very basic reason, it will cut into profits,


What dream world are you in? The insurance companies are one of the main proponents. It won't hurt their profits a bit as it forces people to get coverage for which they will never make claims.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/03/28/health-insurance-companies-are-praying-obamacare-will-stand

http://buzz.money.cnn.com/2013/11/21/obamacare-insurers-stocks/


it was a republican idea first implemented in Mass. by the former governor of that state, Mr. Mitt Romney.


I am against it because it is an economic disaster no matter who initially proposed it. And, you might note, that after experiencing it in Mass, Romney recognized how bad the idea was.

rmackie - again, you seem to have an amazing lack of understanding of the realities. Is that ignorance or just intentially mistating the facts to try to support your unsupportable position.

EC it is the way I see it, but I do get a big kick out of your responses. History will judge, but I do think you stand by your own perceptions of things, support the "Traveler" and I read your postings when I pull up the website.


EC it is the way I see it,


Even when the facts fly in your face.


you stand by your own perceptions of things,


No, I stand by facts and reality.

And I stand by my own facts and reality. Close to thirty years in healthcare, dealing with sick and injured people every day of it, death and healing, insured and uninsured. And hours after hours after hours through all of those years of dealing with insurance companies fighting for those corporations to authorize what their customers, my patients, need and had paid them to cover.

Your own facts and reality, as are mine, are through our own prisms of what we believe and have experienced. I spent 30 years healing the ill and you spent 30 years on Wall Street.

Today I could never stomach to believe what you have shown you believe - although I did, 30 years ago, before I developed a conscience. You will most likely never stomach what I believe in.

How about we get back to the parks.

ec you are directly contradicting what Mitt Romney told David Gregory about the Massachusetts version of ACA when he appeared on Meet the Press just a few weeks ago. If you are really interested in the truth, you can probably pull that interview up online. You may find facts swatting you in the face if you will make an effort to find them.

This article, though, is spot on. Without compromise on all sides nothing will happen to benefit our parks -- or the rest of our nation, for that matter.


directly contradicting what Mitt Romney told David Gregor


And that's why he said he would repeal Obamacare right, because it would work so well at the national level?


And I stand by my own facts and reality.


Your own reality is right. I don't care how long you worked in healthcare. With millions being tossed off their insurance plans, doctors abandoning or being thrown off the networks, costs skyrocketing and no real improvement in healthcare or cost, the ACA is a disaster.


How about we get back to the parks.


A good suggestion! I don't see any mention of the ACA in the story that started this thread, and the various opinions on that topic have been more than thoroughly covered.

How about, instead, some comments on the topic at hand, including this quote from the story: "Nine in 10 voters — Republican, Democrat and Independent — do not want national park funding cut. Sen. Murray has reflected this bipartisan support with a budget that allows room for investing in national parks, which enjoy broad support, are economically important and are being harmed by the sequester."

I agree with Kurt that the future will tell us more about successes and failures of ACA. But if I were to make a plan for Health Care, I would have done it differently. I would raise Taxes to cover a basic health care plan, and then allow those that want to to buy supplimental insurance. To me that would put us closer to the rest of the industrialized countries and be true universal insurance for all. Thats my opinion.

The trend has shown that NPS doesn't know how effectively cut it's budget and requires outside intervention to make the cuts for them. These forced cuts are usually not ideal but the NPS believes the beauracracy is more important.

The thoughtless polices dreamt up by the NPS is the primary reason for causing a harm to the national parks, threatening the visitor experience and the economic health of surrounding communities. Current NPS are their own worst enemy.

Rick B, thank you for your service, great comment. Back to funding for parks, as I occasionally am an emergency hire for wildland and managed wilderness fire, I have seen first hand the effects of the cuts in our NPS funding by congress. I know there are others that have much more knowledge, but just in park fire management activities here in Yosemite, I have witnessed about a 30% cut in their programs including fuel treatments, etc. Depending on the latest budget efforts, it could be even more drastic this year. Interesting fire effects data being released on the Rim fire, the largest in Sierra recorded history, total burned acres on both the Stanislaus NF and Yosemite NP was roughly 260.000, roughly 65,000 inside the parks north western boundary,

In measuring both soil severity on a scale of 1-10, from not burned, moderate burn to severe burn the Stanisalus NF stats show 7% severe soil impact, not to bad actually, and most of this did occur in the Cherry Creek, Granite Basin area. Vegetation loss was more extreme, up to 40%. In the park, the figures are quite impressive, no measured soil severity loss, vegetation loss minimal, mostly dead and down and seedling trees up to 6" in diameter. Initial evaluation points to the outstanding efforts of Park employees in their efforts in both prescribed fire and managed wilderness fire over the last 20-30 years, in reducing the forest floor biomass and fuel ladders that help cause the type of extreme fire behavior that did occur on the Stanislaus Forest. This proposed implementation of the sequestration cuts for our parks, forests and public lands will, unfortunately, only continue the rising costs of managing wildland fires.

Beach-- I am sure that there is not a superintendent in the NPS who wouldn't appreciate your insights on how to reduce services to cut budgets. Perhaps you should go into the consulting business.

Rick

But, ec, you won't try to watch the Romney / Gregory interview? I guess it's much easier to maintain one's "reality" if there are no efforts made to learn about real reality. It's a whole lot easier than actually thinking.

As for park funding, nothing positive will happen in much of anything governed by Congress until those clowns stop acting like spoiled brats and put aside their idiotically childish behavior.

Probably the only cure for that would be an almost total housecleaning by voters -- and the vast money behind the PACs and other propaganda mills will be hard to fight.


I guess it's much easier to maintain one's "reality" if there are no efforts made to learn about real reality.


Hmm - since I am sure you wont except my analysis of the interview, lets take the opening paragraph from this analysis:

"Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke to Meet the Press' David Gregory and pushed back against President Barack Obama's comparison of the Affordable Care Act to Mitt Romney's health care reforms in Massachusetts, arguing that "the president failed to learn the lessons that came from Massachusetts."

Mitt Romney to David Gregory: Obama's 'Fundamental Dishonesty' Will 'Rot'
2nd Term"
http://commoncts.blogspot.com/2013/11/video-mitt-romney-interview-on-nbcs.html

Doesn't sound to me much like Romney supporting Obamacare.

I'm amazed - amazed, mind you - that someone who got his ass so handed to him as Romney might find it in his soul to express a little bitterness against the man who trounced him.


the man who trounced him.


More of your fantasy world

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/history/2012/11/how_close_was_this_election_very_close.html

But Lee is in the same fantasy world as the interview shows just the opposite of what Lee suggests.

One of my duties for many years in the NPS as a Protection Division Ranger was rescue and emergency services. In a park like Yosemite, you get your share of accident victims, drownings, falls, well the list gets quite lengthly. You train with other EMS personnel at medical facilities etc, frequently. There is an excellent book by Butch Farabee ( a first class park ranger , then superintendent), titled "Death in Yosemite". Do not let the title scare you, there is much history of the park, it is well reserached and well written. In any case Rick B, I want to thank you for your comment again. I have thought about it all day, your service for 30 years helping the injured, sick, distressed, well my hat is off to you. And your experience doing so mirrors mine, but mine was to much lesser extent. Your comment simply hits the nail on the head. Thank you.

Thanks, Mackie. I'm in awe of the folks here who have put in their all in the parks. I could listen to 'hey ranger' stories all day.

But, ec, you said, "And, you might note, that after experiencing it in Mass, Romney recognized how bad the idea was."

I was pointing out that in the MTP interview, Romney defended the Massachusetts program while at the same time dodging, flipping, flopping, slithering and sliding trying to avoid answering some very direct questions from David Gregory. It was a pathetic attempt to continue spouting the party line while defending himself from any criticism.

You really need to actually watch and listen to the entire interview rather than clipping comments from biased blogs or TV "news" that may have edited the interview to make it say something different than what really happened. Remember that it is important to go the original sources.


Romney defended the Massachusetts program

Going back and reading the thread, I see we may have been discussing different things. I was under the impression that you were claiming Romney supported Obamacare as that was what I was referring to when I said he "recognized how bad an idea its was.

He did institute Romneycare (which I believe was a major mistake and one reason he didn't get the full support from the right) but that is a very differenct program than Obamacare.

It is heartening to me that both sides value the National Parks as much as they do but sad that value is not enough to put politics aside and not use them as a bargaining chip. I'd love to see party affiliations vanish once in office and hold the entire body responsible for their actions or inactions as they may be. Far too much time is spent trying to damage the other side (from both parties). I can't help but compare the disagreements in Washington to the dialogue here between ecbuck and LeeDalton two of the more pasionate posters here. Perhaps when they can agree on something Washington will too :).

Politics have poisoned the NPS more so than ever. I seen my favorite park negatively and drastically change because of powerful organizations with deep pockets and dedicated political lobbyists. Visitors have no chance against the NPS and it's cozy politically connected organizations like Audubon.

The ACA is an example of government program, with best of intentions, that had very little thought to costs, realities affecting the people, and a mostly politically driven agenda. Even though the evidence shows that it will and is causing more harm than good, because of politics they will continue to ram it through. I can name a half dozen of NPS programs that mimic the exact same failures. I think that's why many are drawing comparisons with and the mismanagement of the DOI/NPS.

beacdumb... I really honestly hope to never live a life as miserable as the one that your described worldview seems. Here's hoping for a better tomorrow for you, with fewer terrible people doing awful things to you.

On a completely related note (to the original post), what's been left unsaid is that, if the two parties agree on spending levels for the next year or two, even if the "sequester" caps are in place, the appropriations committees can actually go through and allocate money in a more sensible way.

However, as long as the government is operating under stopgap continuing resolutions, the cuts will continue to fall in the deliberately painful across-the-board fashion. That's why it's important for Senator Murray and Represenative Ryan (who is actually the CHAIRMAN of this conference committee, a fact also left deliberately unsaid by the misleading NPCA opinion piece) to come to any agreement, even if it does not completely relieve the BCA spending levels. I hope we can all at least agree on this point.

RickB, those doing well under the status quo are always going to try to marginalize, belittle, and attempt to paint as disgruntled kooks, those who speak truth to power.

Sorry Perp. I've spent most of my life being the guy paying the price for pointing out the Emperor's New Clothes. I've just done my best to work myself out of being a victim. I found out that when I found myself to be a Perpetual Victimal, there may well be steps that >> I << could take to improve my lot.

None of this has much to do with the parks.

Perp sesonal--"Truth to power" or truth as the way you view it? Sounds pretty egotistical to me if you think you hold the key to absolute truth and freely dispense it to those in positions of authority.

Rick

Thanks for the response Mr. Smith. It tells me I've succeeded in pricking the conscience that you would bother to respond. Keep enjoying that retirement I will keep working to see that more and more of us who believed the false promises of the agency will maybe get to one day enjoy some kind of retirement ourselves. If they one day start dividing up headquarter and regional office positions into seasonal jobs maybe then we'll see the CNPSR send out some scathing statements about it. How about that? Maybe we could get some regional office jobs that work six months and then hand it off to someone else to work for six months --that wouldn't violate the law would it?

Careful folks, let's be a little careful. We seem to be losing the "constructiveness" of the dialog....

Sadly, it doesn't seem likely at this point that any compromise will be reached in the budget talks. As a result, we're likely to see more and more releases such as the one from Lassen Volcanic about the closing of its visitors center through the winter. What will be the next cutback? Some might shrug at a shuttered visitor center, but what if some parks institute rolling closures ... three days closed, four days open, three days closed, four days open.

Will states start complaining to their congressional representatives and demand that they be allowed to staff the parks as some states did back in October? Will this blow fresh wind into Rep. Don Young's proposal to allow states to take over management of national parks?

=== deleted as it wouldn't have helped===


That's why it's important for Senator Murray and Represenative Ryan (who is actually the CHAIRMAN of this conference committee, a fact also left deliberately unsaid by the misleading NPCA opinion piece)


I'm not sure why you find this piece misleading. I think it is pretty factual.

Just an FYI, Murry and Ryan are both the Chair of their respective committees and leaders of this committee, though Murray, being both senior and in the Senate, which has 22 memebers on the committee to the House's 7, is probably considered more the head of the joint-committee than Ryan.


Will this blow fresh wind into Rep. Don Young's proposal to allow states to take over management of national parks?


I sure hope not.

Young's bill looks like it still doesn't have any co-sponsors. However, "Provide Access and Retain Continuity Act (PARC)” (H.R. 3311) has 17 co-sponsors. This bill seems to be a slightly different version of Young's bill.

http://naturalresources.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=361276

Thank you Traveler for the post. I certainly hope this idea of turning over our National Parks to the states does not gain much momentum. I am a big fan of state parks, that is not the issue to me. Our National Parks are national in scope, they belong to citizens of all states. It is important that national policy prevail here, not just local community, county or state policy.It is also important to remember the local citizens in the gateway communities, the last governmental (partial) shutdown hurt a lot of people, both in government and in the private sector in these communities, but the National Parks belong to all US citizens. We have the money to do it, it is just the austerity, turn the clocks back to the 1920's crowd that is promoting this in my own view of the issue.

Rick, thanks for the warm wishes. Unfortunately we are all living in the misery created by the rise of liberalism and it's corruption of the NPS. I am just trying to undo what I can so future generations can enjoy the parks like I did when common sense, pro access, and pro visitor were priorities of the NPS.

We should push harder for states to take over management of our parks and just maybe the NPS will get a clue. It would be an economic boom to localities that depend on the parks if the NPS were removed, no one can refute that.

Beachdumb, I do see your point, I remember a Park Service director once telling us at an employees meeting, it cannot be a park unless people are allowed to enjoy it. It has always been part of the NPS mission to provide for the enjoyment of the park visitor, but in such a way that the park resources (plants, animals, birds, historic buildings, etc), remain unimpaired for future generations. That is the congressional mandate that is the fundamental guideline for NPS managers. Its a tough call, it was easier when I first started in Yosemite in 1960, for example the new Tioga Road had not been completed, visitation at Tuolumne Meadows that summer was 25,000 people. Here in 2013, its is a million and half and growing. The growth of our population and resulting competition for the resources and/or use of the facilities in many areas calls for restrictions that I, and perhaps yourself and others, are not to happy about. But I do think its needs to be done.

States manage resources differently than federal agencies. States have a vested interest in promoting visitation, the NPS does not. States are not always forced into enacting laws or regulations that are not compatible because of some outside mandate. States have their own resource protection measures they developed by local knowledge, not based on some belief of some NPS beaurcrat in Colorado.

I've seen these mandates abused to achieve idealogical goals or appease polilitically connected NGOs. Unfortunately, the NPS seems to always side with the NGOs and usually with detriment to the visitor experience.

Bottom line is if the NPS doesn't want to loose control of the parks they are accused of mismanaging, they better start changing.

"States have a vested interest in promoting visitation, the NPS does not."

But what if that vested interest promotes visitation to such a point that it destroys the resource?


I'm not sure why you find this piece misleading. I think it is pretty factual.Just an FYI, Murry and Ryan are both the Chair of their respective committees and leaders of this committee, though Murray, being both senior and in the Senate, which has 22 memebers on the committee to the House's 7, is probably considered more the head of the joint-committee than Ryan.

Misleading on two counts, which I've already pointed out.

First, the NPCA op-ed piece doesn't even mention Paul Ryan.

For YOUR information, Rep. Ryan is indeed the Chair of this particular Budget Conference Committee because Congressional practice dictates that the House and Senate alternate chairmanship of conference committees. Since Senator Conrad was chair of the last Budget Conference Committee, that makes Ryan chair this time around, and Murray vice-chair. The number of conferees is irrelevant; each chamber can appoint as many as they wish, but a final agreement merely requires a majority of your chamber's votes. The Senate holds no greater leverage in this negotiation than does the House (One might also point out Article I, section 7, clause 1 of the Constitution). Technical, to be sure, but since you inquired... :-)

Second, while the sequster is a terrible way to set budget policy, Congress can still abide by the overall spending levels from now until 2021 without disaster. As I mentioned, if an overall budget resolution is agreed to, the appropriators can re-allocate funding at the department and program levels to mitigate the cuts.

I highly recommend Fix the Debt's sequester primer: http://www.fixthedebt.org/blog/letting-the-facts-out-on-sequestration_1

I didn't expect the NPCA to present the other side, but I thought that someone ought to.