Friday, October 21, 2005

Welcome to Pizza Hut Fort Pickens Park

(Semi-fake photo free for the taking)

Today, the New York Times editorializes against renewed Bush administration efforts to commercialize and politicize the National Park system.

If you haven't been following the controversy, the National Parks Conservation Association has a quick summary of major areas where the Bush administration has been assaulting the U.S. National Park system by tossing out air quality standards, privatizing public parks, inviting the timber industry to build new roads and clear-cut our wild forests, encouraging minerals mining and drilling in protected wildlife habitats, allowing obnoxious off-road vehicles throughout all national parks, and starving the Park Service of public funding.

For more details, you can read the NPCA's "mid-term report." Although it covers only the first two years of the Bush administration, much of what was foreseen in those pages is now coming to pass. The Sierra Club also provides more detailed information about many of these issues.

Just two months ago, as the Times notes, Paul Hoffman -- another Bush administration crony of questionable competence who was appointed to be Assistant Secretary of the Interior -- proposed "a genuinely scandalous rewriting" of Park Service regulations "that would have destroyed the national park system." The outcry was so ferocious that the proposal was quickly withdrawn.

The latest draft to be released is only marginally better. And, warns the Times, two more initiatives are about to be released. One would allow aggressive solitation of corporate funding for national parks. The other would subject Parks Service employees to "political screening" for promotions.

Says the Times, "What we are witnessing, in essence, is an effort to ... steer [the U.S. National Park system] away from its long-term mission of preserving much-loved national treasures and make it echo the same political mind-set that turned Mr. Hoffman, a former Congressional aide to Dick Cheney... into an architect of national park policy."

No comments: