Latest park proposal still worries some – October 20, 2005

Latest park proposal still worries some

Mail Tribune

October 20, 2005
By PARIS ACHEN
A second draft of proposed revisions to national park management policies released Tuesday dropped language that could have opened national parks to cell phone towers, snowmobiles and private watercraft.
The new proposal “continues the tradition we’ve always had of protecting park resources unimpaired for future generations,” said Elaine Sevy, a Park Service spokeswoman in Washington, D.C.
The first proposal, by Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Paul Hoffman and leaked to the media in early September, would have changed the definition for park impairment from “an impact to any park resource or value” to one proven to “irreversibly harm” resources.
“Paul Hoffman’s proposal was submitted to get the Park Service to begin looking at new options and incur debate,” Sevy said. “There never were any hard-lined regulations.”
Crater Lake National Park officials said it was too early to know how the proposed revisions would impact Oregon’s only national park, on 183,224 acres in Klamath County northeast of Medford.
“We just started reviewing the draft, so we don’t have a consensus on what revisions should be made,” said Michael Justin, Crater Lake spokesman.
But some Park Service retirees said some of the language in the new proposal is still worrisome.
“It’s better than the Hoffman draft, but it’s too early to see a good picture of how it is going to impact national parks,” said George Buckingham, retired chief ranger at Crater Lake National Park. “The devil is in the details.”
One concern is a proposal to delete a part of the policy that gives priority to conserving park resources over providing enjoyment of the park to the public.
“If you don’t have the park preserved, you can’t have enjoyment,” said Buckingham, president of Friends of Crater Lake.
Sevy said the proposal would not change the Park Service’s mission to protect park’s resources.
The move to revise the policies was prompted by a congressional request in 2002 and increasing public demand for modern comforts and activities in parks, Park Service officials said.
About 100 Park Service employees participated in the revision process, they said.
Park Service management policies are based on congressional intent, case law and the 1916 Organic Act, which created the National Park Service and have given parks the most natural resource protection of any federally managed land.
The public has until Jan. 19 to comment on the proposal.
Park Service Director Fran Mainella said the Department of Interior and Congress could play a part in which version is ultimately adopted.
Reach reporter Paris Achen at 776-4496 or e-mail pachen@mailtribune.com.

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