Retired National Park Employees Accuse Bush Administration of Hijacking Our National Parks

On Friday, a group of retired National Park Service employees accused Bush administration political appointees of hijacking America’s National Parks. They cited a leaked Interior Department document which shows a move to push recreational use of National Parks and resource development within National Parks, over National Park preservation.

The group pointed to Paul Hoffman, an assistant Interior secretary, who oversees the National Park Service, as being the catalyst behind the revisions. Hoffman is former head of the chamber of commerce in Cody, Wyoming. He also worked for Dick Cheney, when the Cheney was a U.S. lawmaker in the 1980s.

The Los Angeles Time published a report Friday, in which the National Park Service defended Hoffman’s role.

But the retirees’ group, in a press conference later Friday, said the process hasn’t been an open one. “The hundreds of proposed changes to NPS procedures have been drawn up with no input by Congress, the public or the superintendents of national parks,” the group said.

Bill Wade, chairman of the group and a former superintendent at Shenandoah National Park, said in a statement that the group “opposes this astonishing attempt to hijack the management of the 388 areas of our nation’s park system and convert them into vastly diminished areas where almost anything goes.

“Until recently, both political parties have viewed the management of our parks as ‘off limits area’ where partisan politics are set aside and decisions are made based on what is truly in the public’s interest. These draft policies shatter that precedent.”

Wade also told reporters the revisions would give “disproportionate influence” to communities just outside the parks in deciding public use.

A community focused on its economic interest, he added, is not necessarily focused on the long-term health of a national park.

The retired National Parks employess coalition cited these examples of what the new rules would bring:

— The use of snowmobiles would be radically expanded at Yellowstone and other national parks, allowing them to travel over any paved road in winter.
— Grazing and mining would be elevated to “park purposes,” thus ensuring their continuation.
— The use of jet skis, ORVs, dirt bikes and other mechanized vehicles would be permitted on a virtually unrestricted basis.
— Tourist flights would increase, impacting the natural peace and quiet at parks.
— Rangers would be forced to kill bears at parks like Yellowstone if they damaged private property.

Visit The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees website for information:

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