Get To Know Congressman Pearce

NM Representative Steve PearceI want to know who is calling the shots in D.C. with regards to our National Parks. To be sure, there are a number of people who have influence over federal land use policy, particularly in regards to lands within the parks. About a month ago I posted some information about Rep. Pombo who is the chairman of the House Resources Committee. Today I have a brief profile of Congressman Steve Pearce of New Mexico who is the chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks. Pearce, a Republican, has represented New Mexico's second district since the 2002 election. The likelihood is high that he will be re-elected this coming November.

It will be impossible for me to write an un-opinionated description of Pearce's voting record because I am for the conservation of public lands, and he apparently is not. Consider his voting record over the last two years on environmental issues, as described by the website Project Vote Smart:

Representative Pearce supported the interests of the
  • American Wilderness Coalition 0 percent in 2005
  • Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund 0 percent in 2005
  • League of Conservation Voters 0 percent in 2005
  • Republicans for Environmental Protection 4 percent in 2005
  • American Land Rights Association 100 percent in 2005
  • Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance 0 percent in 2004
  • Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund 0 percent in 2004
  • American Land Rights Association 100 percent in 2004

The League of Conservation Voters gives Pearce a score of 0% for his voting record. But wait, there's more! Pearce was called out directly in a Sept 2 editorial in the New York Times in which they called him one of the "deep thinkers" behind the process to revise the management policies to allow for greater motorized access. The failure of those plans hasn't stopped him though. The LA Times yesterday describes a bill introduced by Pearce that would circumvent the NPS policies and allow motorized recreation through parks as part of a Federal concession to States' Rights. If Pearce's bill were to pass, it would be possible for a state like Utah to make a claim on an ancient right-of-way through an area like Zion that existed before the arrival of the park. What does that mean for you? On your next trip up Angel's Landing, you could be sharing the trail with bikes, as in the Kawasaki variety (no joke). Don't bother writing Pearce to complain. Word is, unless you live in his district, he won't listen to you.

Does this not seem ridiculous? Having Pearce at the helm of the Subcommittee on National Parks makes about as much sense as having Florida Representative Mark Foley as chair of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. And we all know how well that's worked out.