Small Victories

Last year I was worried about the direction the National Park Service was heading. There had been a new draft for Park Management Policies that didn't seem to jive with what I thought our parks should be. I was not the only one worried. Friends of mine which work for the NPS told me privately about their concerns for what had been described as the "Hoffman Rewrites" (named after Paul Hoffman who had authored them). Worse, these career professionals could not air their concerns publicly for fear of reprisal. Fortunately, there are groups out there who can speak for the parks. These are groups you are probably already familiar with: Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, The National Parks Conservation Association, and the Coalition of NPS Retirees (to name just a few). They all asked that the Department of Interior drop the proposed plans. In February I had even asked that you readers take a minute and fill out a couple on-line forms asking your congressional delegates to protest the changes. And, apparently you did. The Department of the Interior says they received over 45,000 comments during the draft review.

I have good news to report. It appears that the potentially destructive language, the language that would have opened our National Parks to mechanized recreation, reduced noise and pollution controls, has been struck from the latest draft of the Management Policies for the Park Service. I haven't had an opportunity to read the whole document yet (it's more than 200 pages long), but so far indications are everything looks good for continued conservation within the NPS. Even new DOI Secretary Kempthorne is excited for the new draft. He said today
When there is a conflict between conserving resources unimpaired for future generations and the use of those resources, conservation will be predominant. That 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.
If you'd like to dive into the new policies, links to the draft chapters and entire PDF can be found here: NPS PEPC - NPS Management Policies Draft June 2006

Let's take a minute to breath a sigh of relief, eh? It may seem odd to honor something that hasn't changed, but when you realize what could have been, it is worth the brief celebration. For those concerned with continued conservation, there will be many more battles to come. But at least the odds are good that they won't have Paul Hoffman's name attached anymore. Word is that a "Hoffman Rewrite" today refers to policy changes within the Department of Interior's "casual fridays" dress code (seriously!)